Alma Thomas, nationally known African-American artist, was the eldest of four daughters born to John Maurice Thomas and Amelia Whitaker Cantey. Highly cultured and socially involved, the Thomas family owned this Victorian home in the Rose Hill district, where Thomas was born and lived until the age of 15. Family tradition states that the manuscript for The Souls of Black Folks, by W.E.B. Dubois was typed on the front porch of the Thomas home by Alma Thomas' cousin, Inez, who was Dubois' secretary. In 1907, the Thomas family moved from Columbus to Washington, DC to escape racial tension and to seek better educational opportunities. For young Alma, who had demonstrated early artistic interests, the move meant attending a high school that offered art classes. Thomas later entered Howard University and was that school's very first fine arts graduate.
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Thomas worked as a teacher for over 30 years. Among her accomplishments were the organization of an Arts League and the development of a program to create art galleries within the schools of Washington, DC. Thomas retired from teaching in 1960 to focus on her own art, exploring color, nature, and abstraction as a member of the Washington Colorist School of painting. Her work has been recognized by such prestigious institutions as the Whitney Museum, Corcoran Gallery, and the Smithsonian Institution. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration owns several of Thomas' paintings from her "Space" series, and her work can be found in major museums across the country, including The Columbus Museum.