Merze Tate was born in rural Blanchard, Michigan. Her great-grandparents migrated to Michigan from Ohio after receiving land through the Homestead Act. By the time she was five years old, a one-room schoolhouse had been built less than a quarter-mile from her home. After elementary school, she attended Blanchard High School, which was four miles from home. Tate walked each way, sometimes wading in snow up to her hips or water up to her ankles. Tate was the only black student and the valedictorian of her tenth grade class, the last class she could complete at the school, which was destroyed by fire. Tate completed high school in Battle Creek, then enrolled at Western Michigan Teachers College, now Western Michigan University. She graduated in 1927, with the highest scholastic record at the college and as the first African-American at Western Michigan College to be awarded a bachelor of arts degree.
Despite her excellent academic record, racism kept Merze Tate from securing a job: blacks were prevented from teaching in Michigan’s secondary schools. Several administrators at the college loaned Tate money to secure employment outside the state. She took a position at the new Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, where she taught for five years. While there she attended summer sessions at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree at Teachers College in 1930. In 1932 she matriculated at Oxford University, the first African-American woman to do so, and she earned a bachelor’s degree there in 1935. After a summer session at Harvard, Tate decided to pursue graduate study there. She became the first African-American woman to receive the Harvard University and Radcliffe College Ph.D. degree in government.
Tate’s first academic appointment after completing the Ph.D. was as dean of women and associate professor of political science at Morgan State University. After a year at Morgan, she joined the history department at Howard University. She and Caroline Ware, also appointed that year, were the first female members of Howard University’s department of history. She retired from the faculty at Howard in 1977 after a very distinguished career.
During the 1940s, Tate published her first two books, “The Disarmament Illusion: The Movement for a Limitation of Armaments to 1907” and “The United States and Armaments,” both of which have been widely consulted for their insights on armaments and on disarmament. Her research through the late 1950s and 1960s focused on the expansion and rivalry of the Great Powers in the Pacific. She received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Washington Evening Star and Howard University. As a result of her research in the United States and in England, France, West Germany, Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia, she also completed two books and thirty scholarly articles on diplomatic history.
Dr. Tate served as a member of the National Advisory Board of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University and on the Advisory Committee on Black Women’s Oral History for the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women at Radcliffe College. She received dozens of awards, including the National Urban League Achievement Award, the Detroit Mayor’s Award of Merit, the American Black Artist’s Pioneer Award, and the Radcliffe College Alumnae Achievement Award. She also received the tenth annual national Distinguished Alumnus Award of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Merze Tate passed away in June 1996, at the age or 91.
Source: Tate, Merze (1905–) – European and U.S. Diplomatic History – University, College, Howard, and Michigan – JRank Articles http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/…/…/4788/Tate-Merze-1905.html…