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William Adger

February 12, 2010

William Adger (1856-1885) was the first African American to graduate from the College at the University of Pennsylvania. Adger was born in Philadelphia in 1856 and was privileged to come of age in a somewhat wealthy household. Adger’s father, a successful furniture dealer, had left the destitution of slavery behind and was able create a comfortable life for his family. Although all of his 8 brothers and sisters learned to read and write early in their childhood, William Adger was the only member of his family to go on to attend college. After graduating from the Institute for Colored Youth (later named Cheyney University) Adger enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in 1879. Planning to become a minister after graduating from Penn in 1883, Adger entered the Divinity School of the Episcopal Church of Philadelphia. Adger lived a very short life and died at the age of 29; however, he will remain a pivotal figure in the history of the University of Pennsylvania.

Ben Lewis
COL ’10

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sydney Mbachu permalink
    February 13, 2010 9:18 pm

    I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the opportunity to read these historical pieces. It indeed provides a greater knowledge of personages who are not otherwise well know (at least by me). These articles expand the opportunity to better appreciate the historical contributions of African Americans. Thank you for making these pieces of history available to us in concise and easily understandable manner.

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