Penn Alexander School - Benchmark Q1

 Penn Alexander (University of PA Partnership School)


By: Donna Survillo and Brenda Chhin

History and English 

Science Leadership Academy juniors were given an assignment. For the project, we were to create a hypertextual narrative telling the story of a building within our code/neighborhood named after a historical figure. We chose the Penn Alexander School, short for Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School. The day of our interview and visiting the school again was exciting for the both of us. The history of the school and the historical figure amazed the both of us. Hope you enjoy the video and if more information is needed, please read the written part of our project.

Special thanks to Ann Kreidle (program coordinator) for taking her time interviewing with us and the teachers/students of Penn Alexander.

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was born on January 2, 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her childhood was lived normally as every other young girls, but in 1916, Sadie attended the M Street High School located in Washington D. C. Two short years later, she graduated and was persuaded by her mother to attend the University of Pennsylvania for Education, where they had close ties. Both her father and uncle were the first African Americans to graduate and receive any types of degrees from the University of Penn. In 1921, Sadie had become the first black woman to receive her Doctor of Philosophy in the United States. As she should be, she was quite smug about her graduation. Sadie stated, "I can well remember marching down Broad Street from Mercantile Hall to the Academy of Music where there were photographers from all over the world taking my picture."

Sadie was also apart of the first African American Sorority which was called the Gamma Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. That same year, she became the first president of the Sorority's organization: the Grand Chapter. She served as president there for five years before moving on. After graduation, Sadie had a lot in place for her. She became an actuary with the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1923, Sadie returned to Philadelphia and married Raymond Pace Alexander, a recent Harvard University graduate who received his degree in Law. Not long after they married, Sadie was the first black woman admitted into the PA State Bar. She soon went back to the University of Penn to study and earn her degree in Law, like her husband. Four years later in 1927, she became the first African-American woman to earn an L.L. B. from the University of Penn Law School and she was admitted into the Pennsylvania State Bar to practice law. Shortly after, Sadie joined her husband's law firm. They fought against discrimination and segregation in Philadelphia public places.

She became the first African-American to be the assistant city solicitor of Philadelphia and was chosen to be the secretary of the National Bar Association in 1943. She was not only the first African-American woman to hold a national office in this Association, but she was the first woman in general. Props to Sadie! In 1959, Sadie opened her own law firm and worked there until 1976 when she left to work in the firm of Atkinson, Myers and Archie. Law had become her life as she was active in over 30 local and national organizations. In 1974, Sadie received her fifth degree from the University of Penn: an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Soon after, in 1978, she was named chair person of the White House Conference of Aging.

She died 11 years later on November 1, 1989.

Sadie is remembered and honored at the Penn Alexander school that was named in remembrance of her. She was an exceptional woman.


"Sadie Alexander: African American lawyer and civil rights activist." In "Essortment" []. 11/09/2010.This website gives an over view of African-American lawyer and civil rights activist Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander. It was an extreme help because it was straight to the point and didn't give information that was irrelevant.

"Alexander, Sadie Tanner." S9 Biographical Dictionary. 1997-2010.This source gave us a brief timeline of Sadie's life, but didn't give all the details. It was very helpful in giving pinpoint times and dates though.