Mary Annette Anderson

Phi Beta Kappa Key
Phi Beta Kappa Key

Time Period


Subject Categories

Education, Equal Rights

Notable Facts

First African-American woman to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (Middlebury College, 1899).

Personal Information

Date of Birth


Date of Death


Primary Residence




Historical Significance

Mary Annette Anderson was an 1899 graduate of Middlebury College and was the first African-American woman to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Mary Anderson was born in Shoreham, Vermont to William and Philomine Anderson. She was a graduate of Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in Massachusetts and entered Middlebury College in 1895. She was valedictorian of the Middlebury class of 1899 and was inducted into the national honors society, Phi Beta Kappa. It was recently discovered that Anderson was the first African-American woman to be inducted to Phi Beta Kappa, not Jessie Redmon Fauset, as was previously believed. After college, Anderson moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she taught at Straight College for one year. She then went to Washington, D.C. to teach English grammar and history at Howard University. Upon her marriage to Walter Louis Smith in 1907, Anderson stopped teaching, as was custom in society at that time. The couple eventually bought a home in Shoreham, Vermont, but had little time to enjoy it together due to Anderson's death in 1922.

Organizations or Movements

  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • Teacher, Straight College in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Teacher, Howard University in Washington, D.C.


  • Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies
  • Middlebury College, (1899).

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Phi Beta Kappa History Link

  • Middlebury College News Link