Ruth Ella Moore (1903-1994) was the first African-American woman in the United States to earn a PhD in the natural sciences – delivering her doctoral dissertation at Ohio State on the bacteriology of tuberculosis. Though Ohio State didn’t have a College of Public Health in 1933, bacteriology was, from the mid-1910s through World War II, the foundational science of public health research and practice. Moore, a lifelong public health practitioner, was the first woman to head any department at Howard University and also went on to make significant contributions in the study of blood types, immunology, tooth decay, and the reaction of specific pathogens to different classes of antibiotics.
A true leader in her discipline, Moore was the first African-American to join the American Society for Microbiology. In addition to her numerous accomplishments in public health, Moore was also a talented seamstress having received her love of fashion from her mother, a successful artist trained from the Columbus College of Art and Design. Several of Moore’s garments were featured in The Sewer’s Art: Quality, Fashion and Economy.
-submitted by the College of Public Health