Martha Euphemia Rosalie Lofton Haynes


Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Martha Euphemia Rosalie Lofton Haynes, 1890-1980


By Nancy Alexander Simmons, Fairfax Station, VA


Euphemia Haynes. Wikipedia, accessible online at

Martha Euphemia Rosalie Lofton, who preferred to be called Euphemia, was born in Washington, DC, on September 11, 1890. Her parents were Dr. William S. Lofton and Lavinia Day Lofton. Her father, an Arkansas native who graduated from Howard University, was a dentist in the DC area. And her mother, a native Washingtonian whose lineage included many free people of color, taught kindergarten in public schools. Both parents were active in the Catholic church. In 1900, her parents divorced and her mother was given custody of Euphemia and her younger brother, Joseph.

Euphemia was the valedictorian of her 1907 class from the M Street High School, one of the nation's first high schools for African American students. In 1909, she graduated at the top of her class from Miner Normal School in Washington, DC, and won a scholarship to Howard University. She began teaching school, and was assigned in September 1909 as a second-grade teacher in DC's Garnet School. At the same time, she was a student at Howard University, which she attended in the College of Arts and Sciences from 1909 to 1912. She later enrolled at Smith College, in Massachusetts, from which she graduated in June 1914; she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a mathematics major and psychology minor.

On May 17, 1917, Euphemia married Harold Appo Haynes in Washington, DC. They both pursued careers in education.

Perhaps because of her prominence in the DC community, Euphemia Haynes was invited to join a delegation of 60 women from across the country to meet in DC and bring "the cause of the disenfranchised women of the south before the coming Convention of the National Women's Party." This group of women asked the National Woman's Party to approach the US Congress about appointing a special committee to investigate the violations of woman suffrage that were occurring in southern states with regard to African American women. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for the meeting and Addie W. Hunton, NAACP Field Secretary, organized the gathering. Among those present included Inez Richardson, Mary Church Terrell, Ora Brown Stokes, Jeanette Carter, Florence Spearing Randolph, and Blanche Williams Stubbs. They represented the "five million colored women of this country." In a March 4, 1921, letter, Addie Hunton wrote Euphemia Haynes thanking her for her participation in the meeting.

Euphemia Haynes was dedicated to education both personally and professionally. In 1930, she earned a master's degree in education from the University of Chicago, which was considered a leader in awarding advanced degrees to women of color. She returned to DC and founded the math department at the Miner Normal School—now known as the University of the District of Columbia—and served as department head until her retirement. In 1943, she earned a doctorate in mathematics from the Catholic University in DC, which was known for producing female doctoral students. She was the first African-American woman to accomplish this; but the accolade was not recognized until 2001, well after her death. She was involved in many educational organizations, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Mathematical Society, often serving in leadership positions. And she continued to advocate for policies that would not discriminate against poor and minority students. Notably, she led opposition to the tracking system used in DC schools at the time, which she felt discriminated against African American students by placing them in tracks that did not prepare them for college.

In addition to her education-related efforts, she was active in church-related work. Among other things, she served on the board of Catholic Charities, served on the executive committee of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, co-founded the Catholic Interracial Council, served as a leader in the Washington Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, and served as president of the New Federated Colored Catholics of America. In 1959, she received the highest medal that the Pope can award to a lay person; it was called Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Haynes' other civic activities included serving on national committees of organizations that focused on service to women, girls, African-Americans, and military service members. These organizations included the USO and the Girl Scouts.

Haynes died at the Washington Hospital Center in DC on July 1980, after suffering a stroke and being treated at the hospital. She is buried in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland.


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"1910-11: Catalog of the Officers and Students of Howard University" (1910). Howard University Catalogs. 41, p. 207. Available online at

"1911-12: Catalog of the Officers and Students of Howard University" (1911). Howard University Catalogs. 42, p. 210. Available online at

"Black Women in Mathematics," Mathematicians of the African Diaspora, State University of New York at Buffalo. Available online at Accessed September, 13, 2022.

Carter, Jeannette. "Washington Letter." New York Age (New York). February 19, 1921, p. 2. Available through

"Colored Women Threaten to Picket Convention." The Negro Star (Wichita, Kansas), February 25, 1921, pp. 1, 2. Available online through

DC Marriage License. Film 2111528, p. 521. Digital images.

"Euphemia Rosalie Lofton Haynes." Find a Grave, database and images, Memorial ID 135055074.

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Hunton, Addie W. Letter to Mrs. Euphemia L. Haynes, March 4, 1921.

Joyce, Maureen. "Schools Figure Euphemia Haynes Dies." The Washington Post, August 1, 1980, p. B4. Available through Proquest Historical Newspapers.

"Our Corner." The Washington Bee (Washington, DC), July 3, 1909, p. 5. Available online through

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Social Security Death Index, Master File, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., Digital images.

Susan Kelly, Carly Shinners, and Katherine Zoroufy, Euphemia Lofton Haynes: Bringing Education Closer to the "Goal of Perfection," 2017. Available online at

"UDC's History." Available online at Accessed September 17, 2022.


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