“Russell Jones’s admission to the Philadelphia School of Design for Women marked a historical shift in matters of race and gender within the major early-twentieth century progressive movements in the United States.”

Huewayne Watson
Excerpt from “Anna Russell Jones and Archives of African American Art”

Women’s Education

Anna graduated from William Penn High School for Girls in 1920 and was the first African American woman to receive a four-year scholarship from the Philadelphia Board of Education that allowed her to attend the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art & Design). Over the course of four years, as the only Black student enrolled at the school, Russell Jones completed studies in geometric construction, nature—convention and application, historic ornament, perspective, composition, theory of color, history of art, charcoal, posters, and other areas of design. She was awarded several prizes at her 1924 commencement, becoming the institution’s first black graduate. She then entered the white and male dominated world of art with the diploma in Theoretical and Practical Design.


Art and the Academy

After 1945, Russell Jones spent several years in Washington, D.C., where she attended Howard University Medical School, now Howard University College of Medicine, and trained in medical illustration. She completed studies in gross anatomy, embryology, and histology along with medical students, observing black physicians and illustrating procedures on black patients as the only artist in the college at the time.