anna russell jones

“I wanted to do it, so I did.”

In 1920, Anna Russell Jones was the first African-American woman to receive a four-year scholarship from the Philadelphia Board of Education. This scholarship allowed her to attend the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art & Design), where she majored in textile design. In 1925, she was the first African-American grauate of PSDW. She worked as a carpet and wallpaper designer in a studio in Philadelphia for four years before starting her own studio in the 1930s.

A bit after the US entered WWII, Anna became the first African-American woman from Philadelphia to join the Armed Forces during WWII. In the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, Anna worked as a graphic artist, designing maps and other military publications. She received the WAAC Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and Good Conduct Medal during her service. After the end of the war, Anna completed post-graduate work in textiles at Moore College of Art and Design while also pursuing other educational opportunities.

Watch “Anna Russell Jones: Praisesong for a Pioneering Spirit” for more information about her.