George Harvey and the Harvey Family

Eliza Campbell Wilburn (slave name Wilbourne) became the first African American to serve as a cook when she worked for Chancellor George Frederick Holmes at the inception of the University.

After Eliza’s death, her daughter Emma followed her as a cook for the Chancellors. Her husband, George Harvey, worked as a handyman. They worked for four Chancellors from 1892 to 1932: Fulton 1892; Kincannon 1907-1914; Powers 1914-1924; Humes 1924-1930; and Powers again from 1930-1932. They lived in the Chancellor’s home which was located in Barnard Observatory on campus. Later they moved into a two room house erected for them on the premises. George and Emma Harvey passed away in the 1930’s and were commemorated by the University for their long service.

The Harvey family, for two more generations, continued to work for the University in the bookstore, dormitories, fraternity houses, sorority houses and mail service totaling more than fourteen decades. Emma and George’s two sons, Ulysses and Bishop, worked in the Bookstore, post office, and dormitories.


Information provided by Ms. Susie Marshall, Oxford Development Association, and the Harvey Family.