Janet Irene Thomas, Webster's First African-American Graduate

[Janet Irene Thomas]

Thomas attended Douglass High School in Webster Groves, Missouri and what is now Harris-Stowe State University. She then came to Webster and majored in music, graduating in 1950.

Thomas' admittance to Webster came a few years after another African-American student, Mary Aloyse Foster, was turned down in her request to come to the college. Foster was a graduate of St. Joseph's High School in St. Louis who sought admittance to Webster in the early 1940s. Despite support from a number of local priests and nuns, as well as the college's president, Foster's request was denied.


Le Berthon, Ted. (1944, February 5). Why Jim Crow won at Webster College. The Pittsburgh Courier, p. 13.
Kemper, Donald J. (1978, October). Catholic integration in St. Louis, 1935-1947. Missouri Historical Review, vol. 73, no. 1, p. 1-22.
Missouri college admits race girl. (1945, October 13). The Pittsburgh Courier, p. 1.
Westbrook, Ashley. (2011, December 7-13). Daughter of Webster University's first black student shares mother's story. The Journal, vol. 65, no. 15, p. 1.

Return to Webster University History Facts home

More information:



Books, etc./library catalog



In-house reserves


About us

Service desk: 314-968-6952

Research desk: 314-968-6950

Toll-free: 1-800-985-4279 (1-800-WU-LIBRY)


Contact us

Policies and procedures

Research help

Ask a Librarian

How do I?


Research Guides

Request books or articles

Citation guides

Thesis requirements

About the Library

Getting to the library

Reserve a room

Computing in the library

Assistive technology