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Morgan Couple Documents Benjamin Banneker’s Scientific Study of the Cicada

Benjamin Banneker — scientist, mathematician and one of the most widely known figures of African-American history — was born on Nov. 9, 1731 in Baltimore County, Md. Many have heard of Banneker’s wooden clock, his mathematical puzzles, his land surveying work in what is now the District of Columbia, and his letter to Thomas Jefferson on the topic of human rights. Less known is his work as a naturalist.

In a paper published in January 2014 in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Morgan State University doctoral graduate Janet E. Barber, Ph.D., Ed.D., who is a psychology/sociology professor at Prince George’s Community College, and her husband, Asamoah Nkwanta, Ph.D., who is chair and associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at Morgan State University, contend that Banneker was one of the first scientists to research and record information and observations of the 17-year cicada (Brood X).

In celebration of Banneker’s birthday, you may enjoy reading the professors’ full paper here:

Benjamin Banneker’s Original Handwritten Document: Observations and Study of the Cicada


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