Dr. Ambrose Caliver dedicated his life to the improvement of education for African Americans. Dr. Caliver was the first African American to receive a permanent appointment to federal office. He spent thirty years working in the U.S. Office of Education. By 1955, he was serving as Chief of the Adult Education Section.
Caliver was born in Saltsville, Virginia. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Knoxville College in 1915, a diploma in industrial arts (cabinet making) from the Tuskegee Institute in 1916, and a degree in personnel management from Harvard University in 1918, he went on to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin in 1920, and a Ph.D. in Education from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College in 1930.
After completing his studies, Caliver began his professional career as an assistant principal in Rockwood, Tennessee. He later taught at Fisk University, where he also became the university’s first African American dean in 1927. Three years after his appointment to the dean at Fisk, Caliver was appointed to the new position of Senior Specialist in the Education of Negroes in the U.S. Office of Education by President Herbert Hoover.
During his tenure in the U.S. Office of Education, he published numerous articles, bulletins, and pamphlets on current topics relating to African American education and assembled conferences and committees on these matters. A few of his most famous articles titled, “The Education of Negro Teachers” and “Secondary Education for Negroes.” Also while serving in office, Dr. Caliver headed the National Survey of Teacher Education, the National Secondary Education Survey (1932) and the National Survey of the Vocational and Educational Guidance of Negroes (1939). Dr. Ambrose Caliver died in 1962.