African American History Month

February is recognized as African American History Month and has been celebrated since 1926.The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. Read more about African American History Month by clicking here.

There have been many African Americans who have made a great impact in the medical industry, and I appreciate their efforts in advancing medicine.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931)
Dr. Williams performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893 and founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses (the first black-owned hospital in America) in 1891. From 1893-1898, he was Surgeon-in-Chief, Freedmen's Hospital, Washington, DC. He also founded the National Medical Association in 1895, and was a charter member of the American College of Surgeons  in 1913.

Dr. William Augustus Hinton (1883-1959)
First African American physician to publish a textbook - Syphilis and Its Treatment, 1936. Known internationally for his development of a flocculation method for the detection of syphilis called the "Hinton Test." Dr. Hinton is also the first African American to hold a professorship at Harvard University. He was born in Chicago December 15, 1883, attended the University of Kansas from 1900-1902 then transferred to Harvard, graduating Harvard Medical School in 1912. From 1921-1946 he taught bacteriology and immunology at Harvard before being promoted to clinical professor in 1949.
 /UploadedFiles/022012_AAHM_Mary_Eliza_Mahoney.JPG Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)
First African American professional nurse in the United States (1879). Interested in a nursing career from the age of eighteen, Mary was a "nurse" for several prominent white families prior to entering formal nurse training. On March 23, 1878, she was the "first coloured girl admitted" (Medical and Nursing Record Book, 1878) to the nurse training program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children; she graduated sixteen months later at the age of thirty-four.
 /UploadedFiles/022012_AAHM_Nathan_Francis_Mossell.JPG Dr. Nathan Francis Mossell (1856-1946)
Founded Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School for Nurses, Philadelphia, 1895. First African American to graduate from University of Pennsylvania Medical School, 1882 and the first African American admitted to the Philadelphia Medical Society.

 /UploadedFiles/022012_AAHM_George_Cleveland_Hall.JPG Dr. George Cleveland Hall (1864-1930)
Dr. Hall was a pioneer in surgery and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board at Provident Hospital and was appointed Chief of Staff at Hospital in 1926. From 1900 to 1930, Dr. Hall was the leading African American physician in Chicago and was instrumental in the establishment of infirmaries throughout the south. He organized the first postgraduate course at Provident Hospital and founded Cook County Physicians' Association of Chicago.
 /UploadedFiles/022012_AAHM_Charles_Richard_Drew.JPG Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950)
Charles Drew was a pioneer researcher in blood plasma for transfusion and in the development of blood banks. He was the first Director, American Red Cross Blood Bank, Professor, Howard University, and Chief Surgeon, Freedmen's Hospital. The U.S. Postal Service issued a Commemorative Stamp with his portrait in 1981. Drew received his M.D. and Master of Surgery (C.M.) degree from McGill University in 1933. On April 1, 1950, Drew died after an auto accident in rural Alamance County, North Carolina.

 /UploadedFiles/022012_AAHM_Rebecca_Cole.JPG Dr. Rebecca J. Cole (1846-1922)
In 1867, Dr. Rebecca J. Cole became the second African American woman to receive an M.D. degree in the United States (Rebecca Crumpler, M.D., graduated from the New England Female Medical College three years earlier, in 1864). Dr. Cole was able to overcome racial and gender barriers to medical education by training in all-female institutions run by women who had been part of the first generation of female physicians graduating mid-century.


Dr. Kenneth Olden (1938 - )
Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., Sc.D., L.H.D., was appointed director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program in June 1991, the first African American ever to head an institute of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Olden is a highly regarded cancer researcher whose 37-year career has included appointments at Harvard University Medical School in Boston, MA, and the NCI in Bethesda, MD. He has published more than 170 articles and book chapters dealing with cancer biology and environmental health research and policy, including two of the 100 most-cited papers in the life sciences for 1978-1979.
Sources: Duke University History of Medicine Collection, National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine