From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Wesley, Charles Harris

(born: 1891  -  died: 1987) 

Charles H. Wesley was an educator who received his B.A. from Fisk University in 1911, his M.A. from Yale in 1913, and his Ph.D. in history from Harvard -- Wesley was the third African American to receive a doctorate in history from Harvard.

As a professor, he taught history and modern language at Howard University. He later became president of Wilberforce University and Central State College [now Central State University] in Ohio.

Wesley was president of the Study of Negro Life and History, 1950-1965, and executive director up to 1972. He was also an AME Church minister and elder.

Wesley wrote a number of articles on the problems of Negro education in the United States. In 1927 he published Negro Labor in the United States, 1850-1925 and, in 1935, Richard Allen, Apostle of Freedom. Wesley wrote the history of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity for seven decades. His last book was The History of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs.

Wesley was born Dec. 2, 1891 in Louisville, KY, the son of Matilda Harris Wesley, who was mistakenly listed as a widow in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census when she and her son Charles lived on 9th Street with Matilda's father Douglas Harris and other family members. Matilda Harris Wesley was not a widow in 1900; her husband (or ex-husband) Charles Snowden Wesley is listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as a single man; he was living with his parents, Mary H. and J. H. Taylor, on 9th Street in Louisville and was employed at an undertakers' business. Charles Snowden Wesley died in April of 1902, according to information provided to Ms. C. P. Uzelac of the Dorothy Porter Wesley Center, Inc. His death date is given as April 28, 1904 in the Kentucky Death Index for Jefferson County. 

Charles Harris Wesley died at the age of 95 on August 16, 1987, in Washington, D.C.

For more see Who's Who Among Black Americans,  6th ed.; Notable Black American Men, by J. C. Smith; Current Biography; Jai Jones, "Charles H. Wesley: American Author, Historian, Educator, Minister,"  2/20/2020, on the website; and "Charles Wesley, Black Studies Pioneer born," on the website.

Additional information provided by C. P. Uzelac, Executive Director of the Dorothy Porter Wesley Center, Inc.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Wesley, Charles Harris,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-08-13 16:45:54