William A. Davis, cultural anthropologist and educator

Wm. Allison Davis
Tue, 1902-10-14

William Allison Davis was born on this date in 1902. He was an African American cultural anthropologist and educator.

He was born in Washington, DC, and attended Williams College in Williamstown, MA. He received a Masters Degree in anthropology from Harvard University in 1942 and a Ph.D. in education in 1942 at the University of Chicago. He was awarded the John Dewey Distinguished Professor honor. Davis taught at Dillard University and later at the University of Chicago. In 1948, he became one of the first African Americans to receive tenure at a non-historical Black institution.

Davis, a leading social anthropologist and educator, challenged the cultural bias of standardized intelligence tests. He argued that the lower intelligence scores of African Americans were not the results of lower intelligence but of middle-class cultural bias posed in the questions.

His work in psychology and education included the development of the Davis-Ellis Intelligence Test. He made several studies on social and class influences on the education of children. He authored or coauthored eight scholarly works, including "Children of Bondage," in 1940, and "Cultural Deprivation," in 1964. He was appointed as a member of the Conference to Insure Civil Rights in 1965 and served on the White House Task Force on the Gifted in 1968.

In 1967, Dr. Davis was the first person from the field of education to be elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He retired in 1978 and began writing what proved to be his last book. "Leadership, Love and Aggression," a study of four Black leaders, which was published in November 1983. He died in November the same year.

In 1994, the United States Postal Service honored him with a stamp bearing his picture.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, Twenty-fourth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
ISBN 0-85229-633-0

To become a Psychologist

Person / name: 

Davis, William A.