Bertha Pitts Campbell


MHS Class of 1908

Miss Pitts grew up in Montrose and was raised by her grandmother, who was an ex-slave, who knew the importance of an education. While she and Bertha returned ironing they did to support themselves, Grandma Eliza made careful mental notes of all kindergarten classes in the area. Being the only Black families in Montrose, Grandma Eliza Butler knew that Bertha had to excel in school–and excel she did. Bertha made a name for herself as she matriculated through the Montrose school system, graduating from high school summa cum laude and being named valedictorian. She received a full scholarship to Colorado College but instead chose to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. For the first time in her life, Bertha’s thirst for knowledge was only surpassed by her thirst for information about other women of color. On January 13, 1913, Miss Pitts helped found the Delta Sigma Theta (ΔΣΘ) sorority. In June 1913, Miss Pitts graduated cum laude from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education.  In 1918 she married Earl Allen Campbell, and they had one son, Earl Jr.  Both her husband and son passed away in the 1950s.  The Washington State House of Representatives honored Campbell for her life and work on May 11, 1987, and she stood in the gallery to accept the honor. In turn, Seattle proclaimed June 13, 1987, as Bertha Pitts Campbell Day. On her 100th birthday she received praise and visits from friends and political leaders. Bertha Pitts Campbell died on April 2, 1990. A book has been written about the life of Mrs. Campbell by Pauline S. Hill, “Too Young to be Old.”