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

Diggs, Elder Watson

(born: December 23, 1883  -  died: Nov. 8, 1947) 

Born in Hopkinsville, KY, Elder W. Diggs graduated from Indiana State Normal School [now Indiana State University], where he was one of the founding members of Kappa Alpha Psi, established January 5, 1911. Diggs served as the Grand Polemarch (president) of the fraternity during its first six years and was awarded the organization's first Laurel Wreath in 1924. The fraternity sought "to raise the sights of Negro youth and stimulate them to accomplishments higher than might otherwise be realized or even imagined."

Diggs, the first African American graduate from Indiana University's School of Education, went on to become a school principal in Indianapolis, leaving that job to serve in World War I. After the war Diggs was instrumental in having the Indiana constitution amended to permit Negro enlistment in the Indiana National Guard.

Diggs returned to his job as principal in Indianapolis and earned his master's degree in education from Howard University in 1944. After his death on Nov. 8, 1947, the Indianapolis school where he had served as principal for 26 years was named the Elder W. Diggs School #42.

For more see Elder Watson Diggs at Nupepedia Wikia; Winkler, Catherine, "New scholarship established in honor of Elder Waatson Diggs," at the Indiana University School of Education website; Elder Watson Diggs at the FindaGrave website; and a pencil drawing of Elder W. Diggs by Vertine Young, available in the Indiana Historical Society's Digital Collections, Archives and Library, and Collection Guides.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Diggs, Elder Watson,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-08-02 16:17:36