The Life of EDWARD BOUCHET
Edward Alexander Bouchet was born in New Haven to parents William and Susan Bouchet. William Bouchet migrated to New Haven from South Charleston, South Carolina in 1824 as the valet of a young plantation owner. When the young man graduated, he freed William Bouchet and gave him money to start a business. William Bouchet became prominent in New Haven's Negro community and served as a deacon of the Temple Street Church, the oldest Negro church in the city and a stopping point for fugitive slaves along the underground railroad. Edward Alexander Bouchet attended one of the three schools in New Haven that were open to black students at the time - the Artisan Street Colored School. Although the school had only one teacher, Sarah Wilson, she played an important role in nurturing Bouchet's academic abilities. Bouchet attended New Haven High School from 1866-1868 and then Hopkins School from 1868-1870. He graduated first in his class at Hopkins and was named Valedictorian. Bouchet entered Yale College in 1870 and was the first black to graduate from Yale in 1874. He ranked sixth in a class of 124 students. On the basis of his exceptional performance at Yale, Bouchet became the first black in the nation to be nominated to Phi Beta Kappa, but he was not elected until ten years later in 1884. Bouchet returned to Yale in fall 1874 with financial support from Alfred Cope, a Philadelphia philanthropist. In 1876 having successfully completed his dissertation on the subject of geometrical optics, he became the first black person to earn a Ph.D. from an American university, as well as the sixth American of any race to earn a Ph.D. in physics. Edward Alexander Bouchet is resting at Evergreen.