Department of Historic Resources
For Immediate Release
September 15, 2021
Contact: Randy Jones, DHR
—Alleghany County native R. Arliner Young was the first African American woman in U.S. to earn a doctorate in zoology; Dr. Young taught zoology at Howard University and other HBCUs and
was a civil rights activist and labor union advocate —
—The marker text reproduced below and photo of R. Arliner Young here—
RICHMOND – A state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources will be dedicated later this month that highlights the career of Alleghany County native R. Arliner Young, the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in zoology when she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1940.
The Town of Clifton Forge, where Young was born, will host a public marker dedication ceremony at 2 p.m., on Friday, September 24, at the Town Hall, located at 547 Main Street.
Event speakers will include Clifton Forge Town Manager Chuck Unroe, Julie V. Langan, director of the Department of Historic Resources, and Dr. Josh Howard, a public historian, who will discuss the life of Dr. Roger Arliner Young. There will be a public post-ceremony reception of refreshments served on the Town Hall veranda.
After earning her doctorate, Dr. Young taught zoology at Howard University, where she had earned her B.A. Her career research, often conducted at the elite Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, focused on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on marine organisms.
In addition to Howard University, Dr. Young also taught at other historically Black colleges and universities. She was active in the civil rights movement and as a labor union organizer, according to the historical marker.
The marker was approved for manufacture and installation in March of this year by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which is authorized to designate new state historical markers. The marker’s manufacturing costs were covered by DHR.
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,600 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, and by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority.
[PLEASE NOTE: DHR markers are erected not to “honor” their subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event of regional, state, or national importance. In this regard, markers are not memorials.]
Text of marker:
Roger Arliner Young (1898-1964)
R. Arliner Young, zoologist, was born in Clifton Forge. After graduating with a B.A. from Howard University and an M.S. from the University of Chicago, she became the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in zoology when she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1940. Her research focused on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on marine organisms, and her 1924 article in the journal Science won international attention. For years she taught zoology at Howard and conducted research at the elite Marine Biological Laboratory in MA. She later taught at other historically Black colleges and universities and was a civil rights activist and labor union organizer.
Originally posted: September 15, 2021
Updated: September 15, 2021