Jewel Freeman Graham
Precious Jewel Freeman

(1925-05-03)May 3, 1925
DiedNovember 30, 2015(2015-11-30) (aged 90)
EducationB.S., sociology and psychology, Fisk University
M.S., social service administration, Case Western Reserve University
Juris Doctor, University of Dayton
OccupationProfessor of social work and legal studies
Years active1969–1986
EmployerAntioch College
Known forPresident, World YWCA (1987–1991)
Spouse(s)Paul Nathaniel Graham
Parent(s)Robert Lee and Lulabelle Freeman

Precious Jewel Freeman Graham (May 3, 1925 - November 30, 2015[1]) was an educator, social worker, and attorney. She was professor emeritus of social work and legal studies at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was the second black woman to serve as president of the World YWCA. She was named to the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 2008.[1][2]

Early life and education

Precious Jewel Freeman[3][4] was born on May 3, 1925 in Springfield, Ohio, to Robert Lee and Lulabelle Freeman.[5] She grew up in a racially segregated city.[6]

She attended Fisk University on a scholarship, earning a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology in 1946.[4][7][8] She pursued graduate studies in sociology at Howard University from 1946 to 1948,[3][8] and in 1953 earned her master's degree in social service administration from Case Western Reserve University.[4]


Graham began her association with the YWCA as a teenager in 1939, joining the colored division of the YWCA Girl Reserves in Springfield.[6] After earning her undergraduate degree, she served as associate director of the YWCA teen program department in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1947 to 1950.[3] From 1953 to 1956, she was the metropolitan teenage program coordinator in Detroit.[3]

She was a member of the board of directors of the YWCA USA from 1970 to 1989.[citation needed] She served as vice-president from 1973 to 1979 and was elected president of the YWCA USA in 1979, the second black woman to fill that post.[9][10] She served as national president for two three-year terms.[11]

Graham joined the executive committee of the World YWCA in 1975.[6] She was elected president of the World YWCA in 1987, being the second black woman in that post,[6] and served a five-year term until 1991.[2][7]

Academic career

Antioch College

Graham joined the administrative faculty at Antioch College in 1964[12] and directed the Program for Interracial Education from 1965 to 1969.[3] She later became a social work faculty advisor and, in 1969, obtained a grant from the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare to inaugurate the social work undergraduate program at the College.[6][7] She served as assistant professor of social welfare and then full professor from 1969 to 1986, when she retired.[7]

Seeing the need to add understanding of the legal system to social work studies,[6] Graham returned to university in the 1970s and earned a Juris Doctor at the University of Dayton at the age of 50. After passing the Ohio bar, she helped develop a curriculum at Antioch that combined social work and legal studies.[6]


Graham was a charter member of the National Association of Social Workers and a life member of the National Council of Negro Women. She was a member of the board of directors of Antioch College from 1994 to 1996.[citation needed]

Honors and recognition

Graham was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1988.[2] She was also named to the Greene County Women's Hall of Fame in 1982.[citation needed] In 1987 she was named one of the Ten Top Women by the Dayton Daily News.[13] In 1985 the Ohio House of Representatives passed a resolution to honor her for her leadership in the YWCA.[14] The Miami Valley Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers named her Social Worker of the Year in 1975.[9]

She has been listed in numerous Who's Who directories, including The Who's Who of Women,[3] Who's Who in America,[15] Who's Who in Politics,[2] Outstanding Educators of America,[2] Who's Who Among Black Americans (1981[16] and 1985[4]), Who's Who in Religion,[17] Who's Who of American Women,[18] and Who's Who Among African Americans (1997,[19] 2000,[5] 2008[20]).

In 1991 she was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by the Meadville Lombard Theological School.[1]


She married Paul Nathaniel Graham, a rubber chemist, in 1953.[3][21] They had two sons.[1] In 1956 they moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Paul Graham was employed at Vernay Laboratories.[6] In 1962 Paul Graham was involved in a racial segregation issue with a local barber who refused to cut his hair and who was subsequently served with a cease and desist order.[22]

In 2002 she suffered a heart attack, from which she recovered.[6] She wrote a memoir, The Life of My Times, 1925–2000.[7] She died at her home on November 30, 2015.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Jewel Freeman Graham". The Yellow Spring News. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Jewel Freeman Graham". Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g The World Who's Who of Women. Vol. 3. Taylor & Francis. 1990. p. 336. ISBN 9780948875106.
  4. ^ a b c d Who's Who Among Black Americans (4th ed.). Who's Who Among Black Americans, Inc., Publishing Company. 1985. p. 323. ISBN 0915130963.
  5. ^ a b Henderson, Ashyia N. (2000). Who's Who Among African Americans (13th ed.). Gale Research. p. 506. ISBN 0787636347.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Heaton, Lauren (22 June 2006). "Antioch's Jewel to be honored at Antioch College reunion". Yellow Springs News. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cool, Heidi (17 June 2008). "Precious Jewel Freeman Graham". Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Antioch College Bulletin 72–73". Antioch College. 1972. p. 139.
  9. ^ a b "Second Black Woman to Head U.S. YWCA". Baltimore Afro-American. 31 July 1979. p. 10. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  10. ^ "YWCA President Issued Goals for Six-Year Term". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 56 (15): 6. 28 June 1979.
  11. ^ "YWCA USA Annual Report 2004–2005" (PDF). YWCA USA. 2004. p. 5. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Pioneers". Black Issues in Higher Education. Cox, Matthews & Associates. 8 (1): 19. 1991.
  13. ^ Boyle, Jacqui (1 December 2012). "Celebrating 50 Years of Ten Top Women". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Honoring Jewel Freeman Graham for Her Outstanding Leadership in the Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A." Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Ohio. 141: 247. 1985.
  15. ^ Who's Who in America 2003. Marquis Who's Who. 2002. p. 5990. ISBN 9780837969695.
  16. ^ Matney, William C. (1981). Who's Who Among Black Americans (3rd ed.). Who's Who Among Black Americans, Inc., Publishing Company. p. 308. ISBN 0915130335.
  17. ^ Who's Who in Religion. Marquis Who's Who. 1985. p. 136. ISBN 9780837916033.
  18. ^ Who's Who of American Women. Vol. 3. Marquis Who's Who. 2002. p. 6141. ISBN 9780837969695.
  19. ^ Phelps, Shirelle (1997). Who's Who Among African Americans (10th ed.). Gale Research. ISBN 0787601098. precious jewel.
  20. ^ Who's Who Among African Americans. Gale Research. 2008. p. 1467. ISBN 9781414400204.
  21. ^ Hammond, Jeanne (1980). "The YWCA: A Way to Express My Faith". Sepia. 29 (5): 21.
  22. ^ "Labor: Order Barber to Cease, Desist Bias Practices". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 21 (26): 52. 19 April 1962.

Further reading