Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone
              An online resource since 1997.


 A teacher in the primary grades, Hygienic School, 1910.A student in the primary grades, Hygienic School, 1910.



African American History
in South Central
the 20th Century

Numa P. G. Adams


Numa P. G. Adams graduated from Steelton High School in 1905, and his name is found in an old school theme book containing the names of 284 African American graduates of Steelton High School.  The book covers the time period from 1885 to 1940, and lists the Black graduates for each year.  The book was supplied by Clayton C. Carelock of the Friends of Midland organization. Originally formed to rescue and rehabilitate the historic Midland Cemetery, the Friends of Midland also have an interest in local African American history, including the Hygienic School.  They are very interested in hearing from former students of the Hygienic School, and any of the Steelton High students, or their descendants, listed here, and can be contacted at the following address:
Friends of Midland, P. O. Box 7442, Steelton, Pennsylvania 17113-0442.
E-mail:  Friends of Midland

Numa P. G. (Pompilius Garfield) Adams was born in 1885 and graduated from Steelton High School in 1905, one of four African American students to graduate that year.  He studied at Howard University, graduating from that institution in 1911, and went on to study chemistry at Columbia University, earning an M. A. in 1912.  Adams returned to Howard to teach chemistry as an assistant professor, with Professor Herbert Clay Scurlock and instructor Ernest Jones Marshall.  

In 1919, Adams began the study of medicine at the University of Chicago medical school, established a practice, and later returned to Howard again, this time to assume the duties of dean of the medical school, being the first African American to hold that position.  Adams was dean, and professor in the medical school until his death in 1940.  The Numa P. G. Adams Building at Howard College of Medicine is named for him.

In 1915 Numa Adams married Osceola Macarthy, a gifted actress who frequently used the stage name Osceola Archer.  She was active on and off Broadway, appearing in the New York Shakespeare Festival, and also appeared in movies and television.  During the Depression years her work at the American Negro Theater as a director and teacher influenced such popular actors as Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.  She was Director of the Harlem School of the Arts and was a founding member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1913 at Howard University.  She died in 1986.


"Chemistry at Howard 1867-1927" Retrieved July 30, 2002 from the World Wide Web: (inactive link)

"Osceola Macarthy Adams (1890-1986)" Retrieved October 28, 2002 from the World Wide Web: (inactive link)

"Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.," Retrieved October 28, 2002 from the World Wide Web: (inactive link).  See  

Numa P. G. Adams was named for a Roman ruler, Numa Pompilius.  Read about that ruler here:

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This page was updated March 17, 2023.