Charity Adams Earley was born in Kittrell, North Carolina in 1918. Her parents were well
educated and therefore, yearned for the same opportunity for their children. Adams, the
eldest among four children, was intellectually gifted. They were raised in South Carolina
(Columbia) where they also started schooling.
Adams Earley started elementary school in the second grade, and later together with
twelve other students, they took and passed a test that enabled them to join high school
early. Later, she joined Booker T. Washington High School where she graduated the
valedictorian. She earned a scholarship and entered Wilberforce University in Ohio to
study Mathematics and Physics. Here, she took courses in education to complete her
studies and during summer holidays, she studied psychology at Ohio State University.
Charity Adams Earley deferred her studies when the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
(WAAC) was created. She joined WAAC, later renamed Women’s Army Corps (WAC),
and went for training at Fort Des Moines. Afterward, she was commissioned by WAAC,
becoming the first African-American woman to attain such a feat. In 1943, she earned
the rank of major.
In 1946, she was made a commanding officer of the WAC African-Americans who went
overseas. Her unit, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion oversaw an efficient
mail operation for troops. They began their work in Birmingham, England, then Rouen
and Paris in France. By the completion of the war, Lieutenant Colonel Adams was the
highest ranking African-American woman in the military
Because of racial segregation, she was in a company of other African American women
while in the WAC. During the military training period at that time, there was separate
housing for blacks and whites, but she successfully advocated against various racial
discrimination acts like separate training regiments.
In 1946, she left the service and resumed her studies at Ohio State University, where
she graduated with her MA in psychology in 1946. From there, she became a
registration officer at the Veterans Administration until 1947.
Charity Adams Earley had begun teaching in 1938 until 1942 in Columbia, South
Carolina. As education was very much a part of who she was, she resumed her love of
teaching in different institutions from the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State
College where she was the director of student personnel. When she moved to Georgia,
she became the director of personnel and assistant professor of education at Georgia
While in the US, she was also involved in regular community service activities in Ohio.
She served on various boards from the Board of the Sinclair Community College, to the
Dayton Opera Company and the Dayton Metro Housing Authority. She also founded the
Black Leadership Development Program. She also wrote her memoir entitled One
In 1949, she married Stanley A. Earley Jr. and moved with him to Zurich, Switzerland
where her husband was studying at the time. In Zurich, Adams took courses in
psychology and languages from some German institutions. The couple eventually
moved back to the US and lived in Dayton, Ohio where they raised two children: a son
and a daughter.
Charity Adams Earley received many accolades throughout her life such as Service to
the Community Award in 1989. In 1991, she was also awarded honorary doctorates
from the University of Dayton and Wilberforce University.
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