Ulysses Grant Lee Jr. (1913-1969)

District of Columbia neighborhoods map, 2008
Map by Peter Fitzgerald (CC BY 3.0)

Ulysses Grant Lee, Jr. was a historian, author, professor, editor and army officer. Born on December 4th, 1913 in Washington D.C. to Ulysses Grant, a business owner, and Maggie Lee Grant, he was the oldest of seven children. Lee graduated from Dunbar High School in 1931. He then attended Howard University where he earned his B.A. and graduated summa cum laude in 1935.  He then received his M.A. from Howard in 1936 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where he again graduated with honors.

Lee began his career as a graduate assistant at Howard. He became an instructor and eventually assistant professor at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he taught from 1936 to 1948. In 1940 he was a visiting professor at Virginia Union University. Lee eventually joined the English faculty at Lincoln University in Missouri where he stayed until 1956. That same year he began teaching at Morgan State College in Baltimore and the University of Pennsylvania. Known as a well respected teacher, Lee was voted the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1963 by his students at Morgan State.

In 1941 Ulysses Lee edited The Negro Caravan with Sterling A. Brown and Arthur P. Davis.  This widely used anthology was one of the first to bring together all of the major writing by African American authors of the era.

From 1936 to 1939 Lee worked as a research assistant, editor, and consultant for the Federal Writers Project which sponsored publications such as Washington: City and Capital (1937) and The Negro in Virginia (1940).

Lee was also an army officer, and in 1942 took leave from his academic career for military purposes. After graduating from Howard, where he was in the ROTC program, he was commissioned into the army reserves. During World War II, Lee was an education officer and an editorial analyst at the Army Service Forces Headquarters. Lee, a specialist in the role of African Americans in the United States Army, was a historian in the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army from 1946 to 1952. His major work, The Employment of Negro Troops, was published in 1966.

Lee wrote several scholarly reviews, articles for historical journals and was editor of Midwest Journal and the Journal of Negro History.  His 1944 Armed Forces manual, Leadership and the Negro Soldier was widely used by Army officers after the integration of the U.S. military in 1948.

Ulysses Grant Lee, Jr. died following a heart attack on January 7th, 1969 while driving home to Washington D.C. from Morgan State University.