Alice Jennings Archibald was born and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She went to public schools and graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1923 with academic distinction. She earned a B.A. at Howard University in 1927 and a bachelor of education from the University of Cincinnati in 1928. She went on to the Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE), earning an M.A. in 1938 and becoming the first African American woman to graduate from the GSE. She spent her career in education. During World War II, she worked as an air raid warden and USO volunteer. She was a member of Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in New Brunswick and was active in the Urban League.