Percy Julian Biography

Who Was Percy Julian?

African American chemist Percy Julian (1899–1975) made important advances in the study of pharmaceuticals (medicinal drugs). He overcame discrimination and went on to become one of the most significant chemists in American history.

Percy Julian
Photo: Getty Images/Celeblifegraphy

Early Life

Percy Julian whose full name was Percy Lavon Julian born on April 11, 1899, in Montgomery, Alabama. He finished the eighth grade at school, but Black pupils were not allowed to attend high schools. He applied to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he had to attend evening sessions equivalent to those of a high school student in order to catch up to his contemporaries academically.

Life In Academia

Percy Lavon Julian obtained a job at Fisk University as a chemistry instructor following graduation. He went to complete his master’s degree at Harvard University in 1923 after being awarded a scholarship. Before earning his doctorate at the University of Vienna in Austria in 1931, he travelled for a number of years. Despite his accomplishments and widespread recognition in 1935, the institution declined to promote him to full professor due to his race.

Later Career

Julian became one of the first Black millionaires in 1953 after starting his own lab, Julian Laboratories. Later on, he founded the nonprofit Julian Research Institute with the goal of advancing scientific research. As a chemist and supporter of racial equality, Percy Julian leaves behind a lasting legacy.

Recognition And Awards

Percy Julian has received praise and recognition for his outstanding services. He was chosen as the first Black chemist to the National Academy of Sciences in 1973. The American Chemical Society recognized his synthesis of physostigmine as one of the top 25 accomplishments in American chemistry history in 1999. A PBS Nova program titled “Forgotten Genius” also explored Julian’s life and contributions.

Personal Life

Julian wed Anna Roselle in 1935 and had two children. In 1950, Julian and his family went to Oak Park, Illinois.


He passed away on April 19, 1975, leaving behind a legacy of scientific achievement and perseverance in the face of adversity. continue to inspire aspiring scientists today.

Interesting Facts

  • Article Title: Percy Jullian Biography
  • Full Name: Percy Lavon Julian
  • Birth Year: 1899
  • Birth date: April 11, 1899
  • Birth State: Alabama
  • Birth City: Montgomery
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Industries: Science and Medicine
  • Parents: James Sumner Julian, Elizabeth Lena Julian
  • Awards: Spingarn Medal
  • Children: Percy Lavon Julian, Jr, Faith Roselle Julian
  • Spouse: Anna Roselle Johnson (m. 1935–1975)
  • Schools: Harvard University and University of Vienna
  • Death Year: 1975
  • Death Date: April 19, 1975
  • Death State: Illinois
  • Death City: Waukegan
  • Death Country: United States
  • Author: Editors


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