Julius H. Taylor (Finding Aid)

Julius H. Taylor

1914 -

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Food: Fish

Favorite Time of Year: Fall

Favorite Vacation Spot: Florida

Interview Length: 178 minutes

Interview Date(s): July 13, 2010

Interview Location(s): Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland


Julius Taylor slates the interview and shares his favorites. Taylor was born in 1914 in Cape May, New Jersey. Taylor's mother, Julia Price Taylor worked in a drug store in downtown Cape May Court House, New Jersey. His father, Coleman Taylor, was a concrete mason. Taylor remembers some of the lessons passed down by his father. Taylor grew up with his four siblings in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, a town that Taylor describes as being very insular. Taylor attended Middle Township Elementary School and Middle Township High School, which were both integrated. He recalls a tough math teacher, but appreciates her for preparing him for the rigorous studies of college. All five black students in Taylor's class [Class of 1932] go to college. With fifty dollars from the drug-store owner, Taylor began his studies at Lincoln University.

Julius Taylor recalls his love of the trumpet, and his plans to join a band. He reminisces about his youth, recalling some of the pranks he would do and his interest in tinkering. Taylor recalls feeling the effects of segregation during a class trip to Washington, D.C. during his senior year of high school when the black students in the class were separated from the remainder of the class. While at Lincoln University, Taylor was a skilled athlete and became the first black to compete in pole vaulting at the Penn Relays. Although he was involved in a fight his first day on campus, Taylor became friends with Carter Williams, "Thurgood Marshall's right-hand man." He recalls meeting the family of his wife, Patricia Spaulding, and how he was impressed by their accomplishments. Taylor and Spaulding married and had two children, Trina Taylor Brown and Dwight Taylor.

Julius Taylor talks about his education at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II, mentioning his relationship with Dr. Gaylord Harnwell, a mentor throughout his graduate studies. Taylor conducted his research in solid state physics and crystal compressions. Taylor then discusses his arrival at Morgan State College in 1949, where he started the physics program. There had previously only been one physics course taught at the school, and it was for pre-med students. Taylor coordinated his efforts with Dr. Dekee (ph.) of Johns Hopkins University to arrange for student support and used laboratory equipment. Taylor speaks about Carl Clark, one of the first students to graduate through the physics undergraduate program at Morgan State College, as well as Conrad Williams. Taylor closes this interview tape acknowledging the role of Warren Henry in mentoring black graduate students in physics at Howard University, and discussing the balance between research and teaching.

Julius Taylor recalls his career at West Virginia State University. He then discusses his role in starting the championship-winning golf team at Morgan State University in the 1950s. Returning to the discussion of his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Taylor discusses the support he received, and he compares his experience to a fellow white classmate who eventually dropped out of the studies. He describes his graduate thesis on studies using a high-pressure bomb, and his experiences in working with government agencies. Taylor remembers being an active member in the American Physical Society and the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He discusses how he received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania but was denied a faculty position. Taylor ends this part of the interview describing his disappointment with his former mentor, but also the enjoyment he receives serving as a mentor for students.

Julius Taylor reflects on how rapidly changing technology influences his research in physics. Remembering some of the awards he has received, he discusses serving on the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Taylor describes his perspective on the branching field of physics and how the student body has adapted to use new technology. He discusses a few of his mentees, including Conrad Williams and Frederick Oliver, who succeeded Taylor as chair of the physics department at Morgan State College. Although he notes that he considered his communication with the school's administration to be risky, there is an auditorium on campus that is named in his honor. Taylor describes writing the book, "The Negro in Science," with the assistance of Dr. Herman Branson in 1955. He closes this section of the interview talking about how education in the African American community of Baltimore, Maryland has changed.

Julius Taylor discusses his involvement with the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers and then talks about the role of politics on his role as an educator and researcher. In discussing his transition from active faculty member to emeritus faculty, Taylor talks about the success of Dr. Conrad Williams. He also emphasizes the importance of leadership to have good communication skills, citing Martin Jenkins, president of Morgan State College from 1948 to 1970, to be a good model of this. He advises small schools to focus their energies on doing a few things well rather than trying to do everything. Taylor quickly recaps his time at Aberdeen Proving Ground and then closes the interview by discussing the future of physics, how he would like to be remembered and what his proudest accomplishment.

58 Stories (See Ordered Story Set)