Historical art: JSU Celebrates Opening of Dr. Henry T. Sampson Jr. Collection

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University alumni, administrators and friends recently celebrated the grand opening of the Dr. Henry T. Sampson Jr. Collection with his wife and son. The collection relates to the historic contributions of African-Americans to motion pictures, performing arts, music, radio and television broadcasting in the U.S. between 1865 and 1970.

“When I first saw the collection display, I felt so pleased and honored for Henry and the Sampson family,” says Dr. Laura Young-Sampson, wife of the late Dr. Henry T. Sampson, Jr. “Henry was renowned throughout the country for his work in the field of engineering. He was quite a genius-a very humble genius.”

The materials for the collection were acquired during a period of over 40 years of research and results of which were published in five books authored by Dr. Henry T. Sampson, Jr. For Sampson, who was raised in Jackson, Miss, donating the collection to Jackson State was based on family ties and his knowledge of the university’s high educational achievements. The collection is housed on the fifth floor of the campus library that bears Sampson’s father’s name.

“Dr. H.T. Sampson, Sr. was an executive dean at Jackson State when I was a student and he played a vital role in my becoming president here,” says Dr. John A. Peoples, JSU President Emeritus. “The Sampson family has an astounding legacy at JSU and I’m glad to have been a part of it.”

Sampson began his college career at Morehouse as a pre-medicine major and after two years, he transferred to Purdue University’s chemical engineering program. He earned his degree in 1956. Sampson later earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering from UCLA in 1961 and in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois in 1965. In 1967, he became the first African-American to achieve a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois.

Sampson received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career and was best known for his first patent with George H. Miley for their invention of the gamma-electric cell.

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