### Marjorie Lee Browne was a god-given genius who dreamed of becoming famous in mathematics since she was a child. She was encouraged and helped by both of her parents. Her math skills came from her father, who was known as a “math wizard” in his area and passed on his love of math to his daughter. She is best known for being one of the first African-American women to get a doctorate in mathematics in the United States. This made her a pioneer for African-American women mathematicians. During her working years, she kept studying and encouraged and helped young people who wanted to be good at math by giving them money and teaching them. She got scholarships and fellowships from some of the best universities in the world to do math research, and she also got grants to help her teach math at North Carolina Central University, where she worked until her death. Even though African-Americans, especially women, had to deal with prejudice and hatred, she was able to do well in mathematics thanks to her strong mind, strong will, and love for the subject.

## Early years and childhood

Marjorie Lee Browne was born in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, on September 9, 1914. Her parents were Lawrence Johnson Lee, a railway postal clerk, and Mary Taylor Lee.

Her father told her to take math seriously because he liked the subject and liked numbers. He also went to college for two years, which was unusual for a black man in those days.

After her mother died suddenly in 1916, her father married a school teacher named Lottie Lee. Lottie Lee raised her.

She went to LeMoyne High School, which is a private Methodist school for African-Americans. There, she became interested in math and a well-known tennis player.

Later, she went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., using loans and scholarships to pay for it. She graduated with honors in 1935 with a major in math.

## Marjorie Browne’s Career

After she graduated, she got a job teaching at a private high school in New Orleans, Louisiana, called Gilbert Academy, which only had black students. She left that job after a year.

She wanted to go to college, so she went to the University of Michigan, which was one of the few schools that let African-Americans in. There, she got her Master’s degree in mathematics in 1939.

In 1942, she began teaching at the black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. During the summers, she worked on her dissertation at the University of Michigan.

She became a teaching fellow in 1947, so she could work on her dissertation full-time. In 1949, she got her Ph.D. in mathematics. She was one of the first black women to do something like that.

She did research on “Studies of One Parameter Subgroups of Certain Topological and Matrix Groups” for her doctoral thesis, which was supervised by the well-known mathematical physicist George Yuri Rainich.

She didn’t want to just teach at a research institution because she wanted to spread the word about how important modern math is and get more women and minorities to study math.

She became a teacher at North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University), Durham, in 1951. Soon after, she was named Chair of the Mathematics Department, a job she held from 1951 to 1970.

Because she always wanted to learn, she was able to get grants and scholarships to go back to school. She got a Ford Foundation fellowship to study combinatorial topology at Cambridge University from 1952 to 1953.

She got a National Science Foundation Faculty Fellowship to study computer science and numerical analysis at the University of California, Los Angeles.

During 1965 and 1966, she was given money to study differential topology at Columbia University.

She was also the department chair and held other important jobs at the college, such as Principal Investigator, Coordinator of the mathematics section, and Lecturer at the Summer Institute for science and math teachers in high schools.

During her first 25 years on the job, Browne was the only person in her department who had a doctorate degree.

During her 30 years at the college, she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses for about 15 hours a week, supervised ten Master’s theses, and kept doing math research.

## Works of note

In 1955, the American Mathematics Monthly published a paper by Marjorie called “A Note on the Classical Groups.” It was about the importance of topological properties and the relationships between some classical groups.

Under her skillful leadership, the college became the first black school in the U.S. to get money to start a National Science Foundation Institute for high school math teachers.

She wrote four sets of lecture notes that were only used by this institute. These were Sets, Logic, and Mathematical Thought (1957), Introduction to Linear Algebra (1959), Elementary Matrix Algebra (1969), and Algebraic Structures (1974).

She wrote to IBM and got a $60,000 grant to set up the first digital computer center at a black school, North Carolina College, in 1960. She did this because she saw how important computer science was in the growing tech world.

She used the money she made to help pay for college for math students who were especially good at it. Joseph Battle, Asamoah Nkwanta, William Fletcher, and Nathan Simms are all well-known students.

## Awards & Achievements

In 1974, Browne was given the first W.W. Rankin Memorial Award by the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM) for her work in the field of mathematics.

She was on educational boards like the Women’s Research Society, the American Mathematical Society, the International Congress of Mathematicians, and the Mathematical Association of America.

## Personal History and Legacies

Marjorie Lee Browne died of a heart attack at her home in Durham, North Carolina, on October 19, 1979. She was 65 years old.

Four of Marjorie Lee Browne’s students at North Carolina Central University set up the Marjorie Lee Browne Trust Fund. This Trust helps pay for the Marjorie Lee Browne Scholarship and the Marjorie Lee Browne Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series.

The Department of Mathematics at the University of Michigan holds the Dr. Marjorie Lee Browne Colloquium every year as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

## Estimated Net worth

Unknown.

## Trivia

The W.W. Rankin Memorial Award was named after W.R. Rankin, a professor of mathematics at Duke University. It is the highest honor that the NCCTM can give to a person.