Hilda H. Lawson received her Doctorate degree in 1939 from the English department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the age of 24. She was the first female African American to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. From 1937 to 1940, she was a Rosenwald fellow, a fellowship established by Julius Rosenwald that provided grants to African-American artists, writers, and researchers. After graduating, she was hired by Lincoln University in Missouri and taught English courses.
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