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Winona Cargile Alexander
Born June 21, 1893
Columbus, Georgia
Died October 16, 1984 (age 91)
Occupation founder of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, educator
Spouse(s) Edward L. Alexander (m. 1917–1943) «start: (1917)–end+1: (1944)»"Marriage: Edward L. Alexander to Winona Cargile Alexander" Location: (linkback:[1]
Children Edward L. Alexander, Jr. and James S. Alexander (four other children died during childbirth)
Founding Members of
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Osceola Macarthy Adams
Florence Letcher Toms
Ethel Carr Watson
Wertie Blackwell Weaver
Winona Cargile Alexander
Marguerite Young Alexander
Ethel Cuff Black
Zephyr Chisom Carter
Myra Davis Hemmings
Olive C. Jones
Mamie Reddy Rose
Naomi Sewell Richardson
Vashti Turley Murphy
Madree Penn White
Bertha Pitts Campbell
Eliza Pearl Shippen
Frederica Chase Dodd
Edith Motte Young
Jessie McGuire Dent
Edna Brown Coleman
Jimmie Bugg Middleton
Pauline Oberdorfer Minor

Winona Cargile Alexander (June 21, 1893 – October 16, 1984) was a founder of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated at Howard University on January 13, 1913. It was the second sorority founded for and by African-American women and was influential in women's building civic institutions and charities. In 1915, she was the first black admitted to the New York School of Philanthropy (now Columbia University's School of Social Work), where she received a graduate fellowship for her studies. She was the first black hired as a social worker in New York.


Early life and education

Winona Cargile was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1893, the second of four daughters of Fannie and the Rev. Charles Cargile. He was an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and Howard University divinity school graduate. Both parents encouraged their girls to get educations. Winona Cargile graduated as salutatorian from Ballard Normal High School in Macon, Georgia in 1910.[1]

From there she went to Howard University in Washington, DC, the premier historically black college (HBCU) in the nation. (Her father and uncle were both alumni.)[2] Cargile graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1914. At Howard, among other leadership activities, Cargile was one of 22 founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in 1913. They wanted to have a sorority oriented to service and political activism.


After graduation, Cargile was hired as a high school English teacher in Sedalia, Missouri. She applied for and received a graduate fellowship to the New York School of Philanthropy (since 1940 Columbia University School of Social Work). In 1915 she was the first black person admitted to the graduate studies program, and earned a degree in social work in 1916.[1] After graduation, Cargile was the first black social worker hired for New York City and New York County Charities.[3]

Cargile moved to Jacksonville, Florida when hired as a social worker for what would become the Duval County Welfare Board. In 1917 she married attorney Edward L. Alexander and moved with her husband to Switzerland, Florida. He had a law practice. Together they also owned and operated a citrus grove. There they also reared their family.[1]

After her husband's death in 1943, Alexander moved her family back to Jacksonville, where they would have more opportunities. She started again in social work, first as an administrator with Travelers' Aid. She worked from 1950-1960 as admissions officer at Brewster Hospital; under segregation of the time, it was the only city hospital to serve blacks.[1]

Among her civic activities, Alexander founded the Jacksonville alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. She was also active in the Laura Street Presbyterian Church, where she taught and was chosen as an elder. She served with the YWCA, where she was on the board, and also on the Methodist Hospital Board, and other community organizations.[1]

Marriage and family

In 1917 Winona Cargile married attorney Edward L. Alexander. They had two sons, Edward L., Jr. and James S. Four daughters died during birth.[1]

Alexander was active in her community throughout her life and died in 1984.

Honors and Legacy

  • The Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae Chapter in Jacksonville established the Winona Cargile Alexander Leadership Scholarship in her honor and award it annually to an aspiring high school graduate.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Our Founder Winona C. Alexander", Delta Sigma Theta: Jacksonville Florida Alumnae Chapter, Retrieved December 1, 2007
  2. ^ Gregory Parks, ed., Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, p. 77, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2008
  3. ^ Gregory Parks, ed., Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, p. 78, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2008

External links



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