1
ONE
THE JEWELS
Henry Arthur Callis
Henry Arthur Callis was born 14 January
1887 in Rochester, New York. His father, who
became a prominent African Methodist Episcopal
pastor, attended Hampton Institute and took
several courses at Cornell University. Jewel Callis’s
mother, Helen Josephine Callis, was a relative of
abolitionist Fredrick Douglass. Jewel Callis attended
Central High School in Binghamton, New York,
where he was an editor for the school newspaper.
In his youth, he heard about a scholarship to
Cornell University from Reverend E.U.A. Brooks,
which he would ultimately earn. Jewel Callis
pursued graduate studies at the University of
Chicago, including work in pathology, physiology,
and biochemistry. He attended Rush Medical
College in Chicago where he earned his medical
degree.
Jewel Callis worked in education and
medicine at a variety of institutions. He taught at
Fredrick Douglass and Howard High Schools in
Wilmington, Delaware. Jewel Callis worked as a
medical intern at the City Hospital of St. Louis, as a
physician at the U.S. Veterans Hospital in Tuskegee,
Alabama, as a senior physician at Freedman’s
Hospital, and General Secretary of the National
Medical Association. He was also an assistant
professor at Howard University’s medical school.
Jewel Callis maintained a private practice in
Washington, D.C. He also served as the private
physician to Carter G. Woodson, the father of
Black History Month, as Woodson’s life was
coming to a close. Jewel Callis was published in the
Journal of the National Medical Association, Journal of
Neurology, Journal of Urology, and the Medical Journal
and Record, among other publications. He was a
member of the National Medical Association and
the Association for the Study of Negro Life and
History. Jewel Callis also served his country as a
First Lieutenant in the 8th Infantry in 1925.
Jewel Callis married Alice Dunbar secretly
on 19 January 1910, even though she was twelve
years older. She had previously been the wife of
poet and author Paul Lawrence Dunbar and taught
at Howard High School, where she met Jewel Callis.
He would divorce Dunbar and marry Pauline
Parker, a commercial artist who helped establish an
“Alpha wives” club in Chicago. Later, Jewel Callis
divorced Parker and married Myra Hill Colson, a
social scientist trained at Fisk College and the
University of Chicago. They remained married until
he entered Omega Chapter. Jewel Callis had two
daughters, Helen and June, as well as three
grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Jewel Callis was a founding member of
Alpha Phi Alpha while at Cornell University. He
was the secretary of a study group from which
Alpha Phi Alpha was formed. He was the third
president of Alpha Chapter and the seventh
General President of the fraternity. Jewel Callis and
Jewel Jones established the name “Alpha Phi
Alpha” and the ritual. He also led the movement to
incorporate the fraternity in 1908. Among his many
accomplishments, Jewel Callis assisted in chartering
chapters at the University of Michigan and in
Chicago, Illinois (Beta Iota and Xi Lambda,
respectively).
Jewel Callis entered Omega Chapter on 12
November 1974.
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