Women’s History at Yale University: Sylvia Ardyn Boone, Yale’s first tenured bla…


Women's History at Yale University: Sylvia Ardyn Boone, Yale's first tenured black woman professor. Boone, an associate professor of art history and Afro-American studies, specialized in African art, female imagery, women's arts and masks.

In Yale's early years of coeducation in the 1970's, she taught a course on black women and served on the executive committee for the women's studies program. She also organized an early conference on black women and founded a black film festival.

Her writings include "Radiance from the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art" (Yale, 1986) and "West African Travels: A Guide to Peoples and Places" (Random House, 1974). Her work won awards, fellowships and grants. She lectured internationally and was a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution and other museums.

Dr. Boone was a vice president and scholarship chairwoman of the Roothbert Fund, which aids students training for education careers. She also served on UNICEF's committee for selecting its annual fund-raising holiday greeting cards.

She was instrumental in organizing the 150th anniversary commemoration of the 1839 rebellion of 53 kidnapped Africans on the slave ship Amistad who were jailed in New Haven for mutiny but were eventually freed. She called the episode "a tale of triumph."

A native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., Dr. Boone graduated from Brooklyn College and earned a master's degree in social sciences at Columbia.

Next she studied at the University of Ghana, where she became friendly with visiting black Americans, including Malcolm X, Maya Angelou and W.E.B. Du Bois.

She started at Yale as a visiting lecturer in Afro-American studies in 1970. After earning master's and doctoral degrees in art history there, she joined the faculty in 1979 and was promoted to a tenured, full professor in 1988.

Source: Bruce Lambert, "Sylvia A. Boone, 52, First Black Woman Given Tenure at Yale," New York Times. May 01, 1993.