DAVIS, RUSSELL HOWARD (29 Oct. 1897-14 Nov. 1976), teacher, administrator, civic activist, and historian of Cleveland's black community, was born in Cleveland to Jacob and Rosalie (Dite) Davis. He earned his bachelor's degree from Adelbert College of Western Reserve University (1920), a degree in chemical engineering from Case School of Applied Science (1922), and a master's degree in education from WRU (1933). Davis worked as a chemical engineer for the GRASSELLI CHEMICAL CO. before becoming a math and science teacher at Kennard Jr. High School, the first black male to serve in Cleveland's secondary schools. In 1932 he transferred to CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, remaining as principal of Central Jr. High in 1940 when the new Central High was built. In 1951 he transferred to Rawlings Jr. High, and in 1962 became the principal of the new Harry E. Davis Jr. High School, named for his brother. He retired in 1965.
In 1943 Davis spearheaded the Welfare Fed.'s Central Area Social Study, creating the Central Area Community Council, of which he was an executive committee member. He also helped organize and was first president of the Glenville Area Community Council, and was an incorporator and executive committee member of the Neighborhood Settlement Assoc. Davis chronicled the history of Cleveland's black community in newspaper columns and books, writing Memorable Negroes in Cleveland's Past and completing a project begun by his brother, the encyclopedic Black Americans in Cleveland (1972). Davis married Claire Richardson in 1923. They had a son, Russell Lee (b. 1924; d. 1933). Russell died in Cleveland and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Russell H. Davis Papers, WRHS.