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Article

Karen Buhler-Wilkerson and Sarah A. Johnson

By any standard, Anna De Costa Banks was an exceptional nurse. Raised and educated in Charleston, South Carolina, Banks graduated from Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1891. She then attended the newly chartered Hampton Hospital and Training School for Nurses, graduating in its first class in 1893. She later recounted in letters to her mentors that the training she received at Hampton had shaped her whole life. Having received special funds to attend Hampton, Banks felt an obligation to work on behalf of the black community that had supported her.

Returning to Charleston, Banks became head nurse of the Hospital and Training School for Nurses when it opened in 1896 Committed to meeting the health care needs of the black community these institutions were also created in response to the denial of staff privileges to black physicians and the exclusion of black women from admission to the ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

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Robert C. Hayden

physician and cancer researcher, was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Lafayette Chinn, a former slave who had escaped to the North from a Virginia plantation, and Lulu Ann Evans, a domestic worker. William Chinn had unsteady employment because of racial discrimination but occasionally worked at odd jobs and as a porter Raised in New York City May Chinn was educated in the city s public schools and at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School N J and she attended Morris High School in New York A severe bout with osteomyelitis of the jaw plagued her as a child and required extensive medical treatment Though her family s poverty forced her to drop out of high school in the eleventh grade for a factory job she scored high enough on the entrance examination for Teachers College at Columbia University a year later to ...

Article

Susan Shifrin

was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the only child of William Lafayette Chinn, a slave who had escaped to freedom at the age of eleven from the Chinn (Cheyne) plantation in Virginia, and his wife, Lula Ann Evans, who was born on a Chickahominy Indian reservation near Norfolk, Virginia.

When May was three years old her family moved to New York Her mother wishing to protect her from the distress caused by her father s alcoholism and determined that her daughter would receive a good education sent her at the age of five or six to boarding school at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School Forced to leave school when she developed osteomyelitis May went to live with her mother on the estate of the Tiffanys the wealthy white family famed for its retail line of jewelry silver and china Although her mother was working for ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Born in the Panama Canal Zone, Kenneth Bancroft Clark grew up with his mother in Harlem, New York. His childhood heroes included poet Countee Cullen, who taught at his junior high school, and book collector Arthur Schomburg, who served as curator at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library. After attending integrated elementary and junior high schools, Clark graduated from New York's George Washington High School in 1931.

Clark distinguished himself as an undergraduate at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he led demonstrations against segregation. While at Howard he met Mamie Phipps, who became his wife and closest intellectual collaborator. The Clarks then went to Columbia University in New York City to study psychology, and in 1940 Kenneth Clark became Columbia s first black recipient of a Ph D degree in psychology Clark joined the faculty of City College ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

psychologist, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, the son of the Jamaican immigrants Miriam Hanson Clark and Arthur Bancroft Clark. In 1919, Miriam left her husband and brought Kenneth and his sister Beulah to New York City. He attended public schools in Harlem, which were fully integrated when he entered the first grade, but were almost wholly black by the time he finished sixth grade. Kenneth's mother, an active follower of Marcus Garvey, encouraged her son's interest in black history and his academic leanings, and confronted his guidance teacher for recommending that Kenneth attend a vocational high school. A determined woman, active in the garment workers’ union, Miriam Clark persuaded the authorities to send Kenneth to George Washington High, a school with a reputation for academic excellence. In 1931 he won a scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Clark attended Howard at time of ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Charles Richard Drew became interested in studying blood as a student at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada, during the late 1920s and early 1930s. At that time, medical science had not yet determined how to preserve blood, a dilemma that became Drew's mission. Later, while interning at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, New York, and pursuing a doctorate at Columbia University, Drew discovered that blood plasma, the liquid portion of the blood without cells, can be preserved for long periods of time, unlike whole blood, which deteriorates after a few days in storage. He also found that blood plasma can be substituted for whole blood in transfusions.

In the late 1930s Drew set up an experimental blood bank at Presbyterian Hospital and wrote a thesis entitled “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation,” which earned him a doctor of science in medicine from Columbia University in 1940 ...

Article

Sandra D. Harvey

physician who pioneered the preservation of plasma, the development of the dry plasma technique, and the use of plasma in blood transfusions.

Born in Washington, D.C., to Richard Thomas Drew, a carpet-layer, and Nora Rosella Burrell Drew, a Howard University graduate, Drew grew up in a middle-class community. Known as the “center of black aristocracy,” Washington offered Drew and his family many social and educational opportunities. Drew attended the best segregated college preparatory school in the nation, Dunbar High School. In 1922 he entered Amherst College on an academic scholarship, and in 1926 he graduated a celebrated athlete and scholar.

Lack of funds delayed Drew's entry into medical school. In the interim, he coached and taught biology at Morgan College in Baltimore. In 1928 he enrolled in McGill University's medical school in Montreal; he graduated in 1933 At McGill he began his research in blood chemistry but Joseph his ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

physician and activist, was born Lena Frances Edwards in Washington, D.C., the youngest of three children of Thomas Edwards, a professor of dentistry at Howard University, and Marie Coakley. Dissuaded from becoming a dentist by her father, the young Lena instead set her heart on a medical career. She graduated from Dunbar High School as valedictorian in 1918 and enrolled at Howard University. Her plans were nearly derailed when she fell victim to Spanish influenza during the deadly epidemic of 1918. Edwards managed to sufficiently recover to quickly resume her studies. The experience of narrowly escaping the “purple death” may have influenced Edwards to cram as much as possible into every hour of every day remaining to her. She took summer classes at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a bachelor's of science from Howard in June 1921 after only three years of study Accepted ...

Article

Amy M. Hay

Edwards’s service was also recognized in 1967 when she received the Poverello Medal, awarded to individuals whose lives followed the ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi. Blessed with financial and familial support, her ministry to poor European immigrants and Mexican migrants, her own life of voluntary poverty, and her service to the African American community all made her a worthy recipient of such honors. She spent a lifetime addressing the needs of the poor, women, students, and the aged.

Edwards was born in Washington, DC. Her parents, Thomas Edwards, a professor of dentistry at Howard University, and Marie Coakley Edwards, had three other children. Edwards grew up in a middle-class family, part of the capital’s elite society at the time. At an early age she decided she wanted to become a doctor. She attended Washington’s Dunbar High School, graduating in 1917 as valedictorian She attended Howard ...

Article

Dawne Y. Curry

On 8 September 1993, Bill Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States, selected Joycelyn Elders as the nation’s surgeon general of the Public Health Service. In this capacity, Elders argued for legislation supporting universal health coverage and advocated on behalf of President Clinton’s health care reform effort. While Elders lobbied for comprehensive health education, she also supported sex education in secondary schools. Her rather blunt opinions, especially concerning masturbation and safe sex, earned her the nickname “Condom Queen.” In 1994, after fifteen months of service, she resigned from this appointment. Elders returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center, where she had previously served as a professor of pediatrics.

Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones in Schaal, Arkansas. Her mother, Haller, and her father, Curtis Jones were sharecroppers subject to the appalling poverty and exploitation of that position in the South Minnie the oldest ...

Article

Susan L. Smith

physician and social reformer, was born Dorothy Celeste Boulding in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding, a superintendent with the railroad mail service, and Florence Cornelia Ruffin, a teacher. She came from a well-established family in which several members were lawyers, but from childhood she wanted to be a physician. When her mother became ill, Ferebee went to live with an aunt in Boston, where she attended secondary school. She graduated from two respected Boston area institutions, Simmons College in 1920 with honors and Tufts University College of Medicine in 1924 Her accomplishments were especially notable because many educational institutions of the time discriminated against women and African Americans In her class of 137 medical students there were only five women and as Ferebee explained We women were always the last to get assignments in amphitheaters and clinics And I I was the last ...

Article

Margaret Jerrido

who was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding and Florence Ruffin Boulding. In Dorothy’s oral history she admits that she is not certain about her birthdate because when she was born, births for blacks were not registered in Norfolk. For social security and school purposes her father provided the date of 10 October 1898. Her two older brothers were educated in the public schools of Norfolk, but because her mother was very ill following Dorothy’s birth, the child was sent to Boston and taken care of by her great aunt, Emma Ruffin, who played an important role in her early education. Dorothy attended primary school from 1904 to 1906 in the West End of Boston and then attended Bowdoin, a grammar school, also located in the West End, from 1906 to 1908 The health of Dorothy s mother greatly improved over these ...

Article

Omar H. Ali

developmental psychologist, educator, and national independent political leader, was born Lenora Branch in Chester, Pennsylvania. A youth leader in the black Baptist Church, Fulani grew up in a working-class black community; her mother, Pearl, was a nurse, and her father, Charles Lee, was a baggage carrier on the Pennsylvania Railroad. As a child, Fulani briefly participated in the public school desegregation process following Brown v. Board of Education (1954). While still in her early teens she decided to become a psychologist to help her immediate community; during the 1970s, reflecting her pride in being of African descent, she changed her surname to Fulani, the name of various West African nomadic groupings of people.

Fulani won a scholarship to Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where she majored in psychology. Divorced when her two children, Ainka and Amani were still very young she ...

Article

Shelia Patrice Moses

comedian, civil right activist, nutritionist, and actor, was born Richard Claxton Gregory in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up on North Taylor Street with his mother, Lucille, and his five siblings. His father, Presley Sr., abandoned the family when Gregory was very young. On North Taylor Street, Gregory told jokes to the neighborhood children, jokes that would later lead to his fame as a comedian. For most of his childhood, however, he faced poverty and racism. His first brush with segregation came at an early age when he raised his hand and volunteered to give five dollars to needy children after the teacher asked his class if their parents would be able to make donations for Christmas. His teacher told him to “put your hand down, Richard this money is for your kind The entire class laughed at him as he ran out ...

Article

Karl Rodabaugh

Americancomedian and satirist, human and civil rights activist, author, and nutritionist. Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory has been recognized as the first African American comedian to break through to white audiences on a national level. Appearing at the Playboy Club and other trendy Chicago nightclubs, Gregory gained fame as a stand-up comic whose humor offered a lighter side to the emerging civil rights movement. From the perspective of comedic history, Gregory is listed alongside other “satirical renaissance” comics of the 1950s and 1960s—Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Shelley Berman. By the early 1960s Dick Gregory and other satirical comics had been brought to the fore by the supportive hosts of the Tonight Show: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson.

Gregory was popular among urbane whites sympathetic to the early civil rights movement They readily ...

Article

Robert C. Hayden

physician and clinical pathologist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Augustus Hinton, a railroad porter, and Marie Clark; both parents were former slaves. His formal education was completed in Kansas City, Kansas, where his parents moved before his first birthday. After attending the University of Kansas from 1900 to 1902, he transferred to Harvard College, where he received a BS in 1905.Postponing a medical school education because of lack of funds, Hinton taught the basic sciences at colleges in Tennessee and Oklahoma and embryology at Meharry Medical College between 1905 and 1909. While teaching at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Langston, Oklahoma, he met a schoolteacher, Ada Hawes, whom he married in 1909; they had two daughters. During the summers Hinton continued his studies in bacteriology and physiology at the University of Chicago.

Hinton entered Harvard Medical School ...

Article

Frédéric Grah Mel

first president of the Ivory Coast, was born in Yamoussoukro, the country’s current political capital. His father was an unknown gold washer whose name, Houphouët, means “filth.” In the Baoulé tribe, this type of name is given to the widower of a woman who has lost several children in the hope that death will not be interested in a piece of rubbish. Through his mother he was descended from a family of traditional chiefs. The name Boigny comes from his mother’s family and means “ram.” In December 1945, when he was going to Paris for the first time as a member of the French Parliament, he announced that he would be henceforth Houphouët-Boigny, which meant that he would be a fighting deputy.

Houphouët’s official date of birth is 18 October 1905 but it is a date that has been entirely constructed Soothsayers consulted before his birth predicted that ...

Article

Martha Ackmann

astronaut and physician, was born Mae Carol Jemison in Decatur, Alabama, the daughter of Charlie Jemison, a carpenter and roofer, and Dorothy Jemison, a teacher whose maiden name is unknown. After living the first three and a half years of her life in Alabama near the Marshall Space Flight Center, Jemison moved to Chicago with her parents and older siblings, Rickey and Ada Sue. When her family experienced trouble with local gangs, they moved to another section of the city, where Jemison immersed herself in her schoolwork. An avid reader, she also was inspired by role models in the media, such as Lieutenant Uhura, a black woman astronaut portrayed by the actress Nichelle Nichols in the 1960s television series Star Trek At a time when all astronauts were white and male even a fictional character such as Lieutenant Uhura had a positive impact on ...

Article

Barbara B. Tomblin

army general, nurse, and educator, was born Hazel Winifred Johnson, the daughter of Clarence L. and Garnett Johnson, in Malvern, Pennsylvania. One of seven children, she grew up in a close-knit family on a farm in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Although she was rejected from the local nursing program because of racial prejudice, Johnson persisted in her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and received a nursing diploma in 1950 from Harlem Hospital School of Nursing in New York City. Following graduation, she worked as a beginning-level staff nurse at Harlem Hospital's emergency ward and in 1953 went to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Philadelphia, quickly becoming the head nurse on a ward.

Two years later Johnson decided to join the army because she said the Army had more variety to offer and more places to go Bombard 65 She was commissioned as a second lieutenant ...