The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce a gift from two anonymous trustees in support of the renovated Student Center. The trustees have named the John Wesley Gilbert Room, located on the first floor of the Annex, in honor of the esteemed scholar, linguist, teacher, community leader, missionary, and first African American student of the American School.
Born into slavery in rural Georgia, John Wesley Gilbert (1863–1923) has justly earned fame as "the first Black archaeologist." He studied at Paine Institute (now Paine College) and earned an A.B. in ancient Greek from Brown University in 1888, making him one of the first Black scholars in the country to earn a bachelor's degree in classical studies. In 1890–1891, Gilbert became the first African American student to attend the American School. Gilbert was awarded an A.M. from Brown in 1891 and was subsequently hired as the first Black faculty member at Paine, where he taught Greek, French, German, Hebrew, and Latin.