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Carol Blanche Cotton

Carol Blanche Cotton

Carol Blanche Cotton (Carol C. Bowie) (August 20, 1904 - November 22, 1971)[2] was an American psychologist.

Carol Blanche Cotton
Born(1904-08-20)20 August 1904
Died(1971-11-22)22 November 1971
Other namesCarol C. Bowie, Mrs. William T. Bowie
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationOberlin College
Alma materColumbia University and University of Chicago
Scientific career
ThesisA Study of the Reactions of Spastic Children to Certain Test Situations[1]

She was born in the city of Henderson, North Carolina, the only child of John Adams Cotton and Maude (Brooks) Cotton.[2]

Carol Cotton received her bachelor's degree from the Oberlin College, her master's from Columbia University in 1927, and her PhD from Department of Psychology, University Of Chicago in 1939.[3][4][5][6] She was elected to the scientific honor society Sigma Xi.[3]

Her dissertation "A study of the reactions of spastic children to certain test situations" studied how children with the condition spastic paralysis performed in cognitive tests compared to matched children who matched similarly by sex, age, and mental age.[7] The study found that spastic children had different test responses such as "bizarre or fantastic responses", more concrete than abstract, and more stereotypical compared to normal children.[7] Their resulting hypothesis suggests that these tendencies are most likely due to cortical injuries from spastic children.[7] A neurological diagnosis would be necessary to confirm this study's hypothesis.[7]

Professional career

Carol Cotton Bowie first taught at Bennett College and Tuskegee University before being appointed to the position of professor in the Psychology Department of what is now North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. She served as head of the department before her retirement in 1962.[8]

Personal life

Cotton's great grandmother was Rebecca Harris, a domestic worker in Michigan. After Harris' oldest child was denied admission to the seminary where Harris worked due to her race, she moved her husband and four children to Oberlin so that the children could go to college there.  Rebecca Harris was also one of the “few voting women delegates at an Emigration Convention in Cleveland in 1854”.[9] Cotton was the daughter of the Reverend John Adams Cotton, a Presbyterian minister who served as the president of the Henderson Normal Institute (1903–43); he would later serve as president of Knoxville College.[10] and the former Miss Maude R. Brooks, who also graduated from Oberlin College (1896) Mrs. Cotton was also an educator as well as a musician and author; she wrote the words and the music to the song "We Are Lifting As We Climb."[11]

On July 9, 1943, Carol Cotton married William T. Bowie in Chicago, Illinois, with whom she had a daughter. They would subsequently divorce.[12]

In her later years, Dr. Bowie lived at 192 North Prospect Street in Oberlin, Ohio.[13]

She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.


  1. Cotton, Carol Blanche (1941). "A Study of the Reactions of Spastic Children to Certain Test Situations". The Pedagogical Seminary and Journal of Genetic Psychology. 58: 27–44. doi:10.1080/08856559.1941.10534552.
  2. "Vance County Births- C".
  3. Wini Warren (1999). Black Women Scientists in the United States. Indiana University Press. pp. 66–67. ISBN 0-253-33603-1.
  4. "The Crisis". October 1939.
  5. Sammons, Vivian O. (1990). Blacks in science and medicine. New York: Hemisphere Pub. Corp. ISBN 0-89116-665-3. OCLC 19628380.
  6. Guthrie, Robert V. (2004). Even the rat was white : a historical view of psychology (Classic 2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-39264-4. OCLC 51586424.
  7. Cotton, Carol Blanche (Jan 1, 1941). "A study of the reactions of spastic children to certain test situations". Pedagogical Seminary and Journal of Genetic Psychology. 58: 27–44. doi:10.1080/08856559.1941.10534552.
  9. Lawson, Ellen N.; Merrill, Marlene (1983). "The Antebellum "Talented Thousandth": Black College Students at Oberlin Before the Civil War". The Journal of Negro Education. 52 (2): 142–155. doi:10.2307/2295031. ISSN 0022-2984. JSTOR 2295031.
  10. A. B. Caldwell, History of The American Negro And His Institutions--North Carolina Edition (Atlanta, 1921)
  11. Baumann, Roland M. (2010). Constructing Black Education at Oberlin College: A Documentary History. Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0821418871.
  12. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.
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