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LaNesha NeGale DeBardelaben

physician and public health provider, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fourth of five children of Hillard Boone Alexander, a horse trainer, and Virginia Pace Alexander. Born enslaved in 1856 to James and Ellen Alexander in Mecklenburg, Virginia, Alexander's father migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. Alexander's mother was born enslaved in 1854 to Thomas and Jenne Pace in Essex County, Virginia. She and her brother migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. In 1882 Hillard and Virginia were married. A working-class but respectable family, the Alexanders lived in the city's Seventh Ward with their three boys, Raymond Pace Alexander, Milliard, and Schollie, and two girls, Irene and Virginia. Strong family values were instilled in the Alexander children at an early age. Church, education, and a solid work ethic were emphasized in the home. Shortly after the birth of the youngest child in 1903 ...


Alexander J. Chenault

dentist and pioneer in the field of public health, was born in Washington, D.C., on 14 October 1884, the son of John Robert and Blanche Maguire Brown. Roscoe was a superior student, serving as the senior captain of the cadet corps at the M Street High School, later known as the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in the District, from which he graduated in 1903. He then attended Howard University, having earned a scholarship. Brown received his dental degree from Howard University's College of Dentistry in 1906. Brown married the former Miss Vivian Jeanette Kemp, a public school teacher, in 1921, and together they had two children, a son, Roscoe Conkling Jr., and a daughter, Portia.

From 1907 to 1915 Brown practiced dentistry in Washington D C and then Richmond Virginia During this time he also taught hygiene and sanitation at the Richmond Hospital Training ...


Edward T. Morman

physician and public health activist, was born in Point-á-Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies, the son of Eleodore Cornely and Adrienne Mellon. When he was three years old, his family moved to Santurce, Puerto Rico. In 1920 the family relocated to Harlem for one year and then moved to Detroit, where his father found work in an auto plant.

After attending Detroit City College, Cornely transferred to the University of Michigan. He earned his AB in 1928 and his MD in 1932 both from the University of Michigan where he was one of 4 blacks in a medical school class of 250 students Unable to get an internship in the North he spent a year at the segregated Lincoln Hospital in Durham North Carolina He intended to continue with specialty training in surgery but effectively barred from a residency he returned to the University of Michigan to study public ...


Wilnise Jasmin

psychiatrist, administrator, and physician, was born Mildred Mitchell in Brunswick, Georgia, the daughter of a minister and registered nurse. At the age of 12, she volunteered for the Red Cross to care for those injured in a tornado that swept through her hometown of Cordele, Georgia. This experience as well as her love for science and her need to help people, greatly influenced her decision to pursue medicine. She attended Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina, from 1937 to 1939 and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1941. She received her medical degree from Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1946 completed her internship and then became a general practitioner She was recruited as a staff physician while completing her internship at Lakin State Hospital a facility in West Virginia for mentally ill African Americans Her experience at Lakin brought ...


Robert C. Hayden

Nathan Francis Mossell was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the son of Aaron Mossell, a brick manufacturer, and Eliza Bowers; both parents were freeborn African Americans from Baltimore, Maryland, who had moved to Canada to escape racial discrimination. When the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished, Aaron Mossell moved his family back to the United States. In 1865 they settled in Lockport, New York, a small town near Rochester.

In Lockport the Mossell children were assigned to a separate all-black school. Mossell's father successfully petitioned the Lockport Board of Education to close the all-black school, and Nathan and the other black children were allowed to attend integrated schools. The Mossell family's home life was highly religious: his father donated the bricks for the first African Methodist Episcopal Zion church in Lockport.

After graduation from high school in Lockport in 1873 Nathan Mossell moved ...


Althea T. Davis

nursing administrator, was born in Zanesville, Ohio, the daughter of William H. Pinn and Lizzie Hicks. She attended the John Andrews Memorial School of Nursing at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and graduated on 24 May 1906. She later organized an alumni association, of which she served as president for many years. She returned to Tuskegee every April to participate in the Free Clinic, a community health fair. After graduation Pinn went to Montgomery, Alabama, as head nurse of the Hale Infirmary; she remained in this position for three years.

In 1908 Pinn joined the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN), newly organized by Martha Franklin to eradicate segregation and the discriminatory practices against black nurses, who faced differences in pay, lack of respect, and exclusion from local, state, and national nursing organizations. The new organization published its meeting and member activities in the Journal of the ...


Kenneth R. Manning

physician, microbiologist, and public health specialist, was born on a farm near Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Fred Poindexter and Luvenia Gilberta Clarke, tenant farmers. After attending the normal (teacher training) department of Swift Memorial College, a Presbyterian school for blacks in Rogersville, Tennessee (1916–1920), he entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and graduated with an AB cum laude in 1924. Also in 1924 he married Ruth Viola Grier, with whom he would have one child, a daughter. He attended Dartmouth Medical School for two years before earning an MD at Harvard University in 1929, an AM in Bacteriology at Columbia University in 1930, a PhD in Bacteriology and Parasitology at Columbia in 1932, and an MPH from Columbia in 1937.

Poindexter had hoped to proceed directly into public health fieldwork in 1929 following his graduation from Harvard ...


Robert Oliver

Born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, Williams possessed a mixed racial ancestry, with Caucasian, Native American, and African-American antecedents on both sides of his family. Williams considered himself a “Negro,” and it was as a Negro that he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, where at the age of seventeen he worked as a barber while attending a local academy and later reading law at night. Deciding against a career in law, he apprenticed with a local physician and then attended Chicago Medical College.

Williams evinced great skill as a surgeon and clinician. His most noteworthy contribution to medical practice came in 1893, when he performed the first successful open-heart surgery. He helped found both the American College of Surgeons and the National Medical Association (1895 the black equivalent of the the all white American Medical Association He also was the prime mover behind the Provident Hospital and Training School in ...


The son of a barber, Daniel Hale Williams lived on his own after the age of twelve. As a youth, he worked as a shoemaker, a roustabout on a lake steamer, and a barber. Moving with his sister to Wisconsin he met Henry Palmer, a prominent physician, the surgeon general of Wisconsin for ten years. Williams was apprenticed by Palmer, who became his mentor and helped pay his tuition at the Chicago Medical School.

Graduating with an M.D. in 1883, Williams opened a medical practice on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. An adept doctor, he served as an attending physician at the Protestant Orphan Asylum and as a surgeon at the South Side Dispensary. Williams also worked as a clinical instructor at the Chicago Medical College and as a physician with the City Railway Company. He was appointed in 1889 to the Illinois Board of ...