Eleanor Farrar, 79, a founder and former vice president of the organization now known as the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, died of breast cancer Aug. 25 at her home in Kensington.
Born Eleanor Schneider in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Farrar immigrated to New York with her family in 1939, when she was 14. She received an undergraduate degree in political science from Mount Holyoke College in 1946, a master's degree in political science from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in 1947 and a PhD in international relations from the London School of Economics in 1952.
From 1954 to 1963, she lived in Pakistan and Cambodia, working as a lecturer in political science and international relations at the University of the Panjab and Forman Christian College, both in Lahore, Pakistan, and at the University of Karachi.
When she returned to the United States, she taught political science at Howard University, where she met Eddie N. Williams, who had served as a reserve officer in the Foreign Service, and Kenneth B. Clark, the psychologist whose work on the self-esteem of black students in segregated public schools was crucial to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
She worked with the two men on a program conducted by the State Department over several years with the goal of increasing the participation of blacks in the Foreign Service.
In the 1960s and 1970s, she worked with Clark as director of the Washington office of his think tank, the Metropolitan Applied Research Center. In 1970, that think tank entered into a partnership with Howard University to establish the Joint Center for Political Studies, organized to provide training and technical assistance to black elected officials. Williams was the organization's first president, and Dr. Farrar its vice president.
During her tenure at the Joint Center, from 1974 to 1996, the organization became nationally known for its research on minority economic and social issues and black political participation.
"The passing of Eleanor Farrar brings great sadness to the Joint Center," said Togo Dennis West Jr., president and chief executive of the center, in a statement released by the organization. "Eleanor is remembered by her friends and former colleagues as a woman of profound strength of character, who expressed her commitment to the study of race relations and development of sound policies with every endeavor she undertook. She will be remembered for her vast contributions to the discourse on racial issues in American society."
She was a member of the boards of directors of the National Women's Education Fund, the Equity Policy Center and the American Friends of the London School of Economics.
Her marriage to Curtis Farrar ended in divorce.
Survivors include four children, John Farrar of Philadelphia, Cynthia Farrar of New Haven, Conn., Andrew Farrar of Cambridge, Mass., and Erin Farrar of Portland, Ore.; a brother; a sister; and seven grandchildren.