Ethel Cuff Black

Ethel Cuff Black birth record

Founder from Delaware

1890 birth certificate from the City of Wilmington, Del.

Ethel Cuff Black was born on October 17, 1890 in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father, Richard was a banker in an African American owned business and her maternal grandfather was a Civil War veteran.

Ms. Cuff Black, one of the twenty-two Delta Sigma Theta Sorority founders, was educated in the public schools in Wilmington, and earned her college degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where she majored in education.

Portrait painting of Ethel Cuff Black

While at Howard University, she was chairwoman of the collegiate chapter of the YWCA. During college, she was also the vice-president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, but later voted to reorganize the sorority and formed Delta Sigma Theta with 21 other women.

The Wilmington native dedicated her life to education and first taught in Kentucky and Oklahoma City. For over 27 years, she taught at P. S. 108 in Richmond Hills, Queens, N. Y. where she was the first African American teacher on its staff. She also worked for the U. S. Census Bureau in Washington from 1920 -1922. While there, she was called back to her home state to serve on the faculty of Delaware State College until 1930 and retired teaching in 1957.

Ms. Cuff Black was married in 1939 to real estate agent David Horton Black. At the age of 86, she passed away on September 17, 1977 at the Franklin Nursing Home in Flushing, New York, leaving a legacy of service to countless students.