Cassell, Alberta Jeannette

Alberta Jeannette Cassell

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  • Cornell University - Bachelors of Architecture, 1948

Years of practice

1948–1982 (estimated)


  • US Navy


District of Columbia, Washington D.C., building systems, institutional


Early life and education

Alberta Jeannette Cassell (Butler) was one of two sisters who became successful black female architects. Her mother, Martha Ann was a public school teacher and her father Albert was a famed architect in the Washington, DC area. He attended Cornell University and graduated in 1919 with a degree in architecture.  He is most well known for being the university architect for Howard University. Her uncle, Oliver Cassell also attended Cornell and received a degree in Civil Engineering. He became a successful building contractor.

Alberta attended Cornell University like her father, uncle and two siblings, Charles and Martha did before her.  She enrolled in 1944 and in 1948 she became the second African American woman to graduate from the College of Architecture, behind her sister Martha.

Alberta married a mechanical engineer and went on to have two children. Her son became an aircraft designer in California and her daughter worked as a computer analyst at the National Center for Disease Control.

Career in Architecture

After graduating, Alberta worked for her father’s firm as he started to move into real estate development.  In 1951 she took a job as an architectural engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. In 1961 she became an engineering draftsman with the Military Sea Lift Command. From 1971-1982 she was a naval architect with the US Naval Sea Systems Command. In 1982 she retired due to a disability.

After her retirement, Alberta focused her energy on writing children’s stories and photography.

Major Buildings and Projects

  • Military Sea Lift Command
  • US Naval Sea Systems Command

Institutional Affiliations

Alberta was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority incorporated, the Alpha Alpha Gamma Society for Women Architects, the Association of Scientists and Engineers (US Navy) and the Association of University Women.