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Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician, educator, and community worker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest daughter of the abolitionist movement leaders William Still and Letitia George Still. In 1850William Still became the head of the Philadelphia Underground Railroad and Vigilance Committee. He would later chronicle his experiences in the best-selling 1872 account, The Underground Railroad.

After completing primary and secondary education at Mrs. Henry Gordon's Private School, the Friends Raspberry Alley School, and the Institute for Colored Youth, Anderson entered Oberlin College. Although she was the youngest member of the graduating class of 1868, Anderson presided over the annual Ladies' Literary Society, a singular honor that had never been awarded to a student of African ancestry.

After graduating from Oberlin, Anderson returned home to teach drawing and elocution, and on 28 December 1869 she married Edward A. Wiley a former slave and fellow ...

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Lisa E. Rivo

physician, organization founder, and social reformer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second of five children all listed as “mulatto” in the 1880 U.S. census. Her parents' names are not known. In 1863 Rebecca completed a rigorous curriculum that included Latin, Greek, and mathematics at the Institute for Colored Youth, an all-black high school.

In 1867 Cole became the first black graduate of the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania and the second formally trained African American woman physician in the United States. Dr. Ann Preston, the first woman dean of a medical school, served as Cole's preceptor, overseeing her thesis essay, “The Eye and Its Appendages.” The Women's Medical College, founded by Quaker abolitionists and temperance reformers in 1850 as the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, was the world's first medical school for women. By 1900 at least ten African American women had received their medical degrees from ...

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Sarah K. Pfatteicher

the first recorded African American woman trained as a physician, was born Rebecca Davis in Christiana, Delaware, the daughter of Absolum Davis and Matilda Webber. Little is known of her early life, except that she was raised in Pennsylvania by an aunt who was often sought out by sick neighbors and whose kind attention to the sufferings of others had a great impact on her appreciative and impressionable niece. By 1852 Crumpler had moved to Charlestown Massachusetts near Cambridge where on 15 April she married Wyatt Lee who was born around thirty years earlier in Virginia and who is listed in various records as a porter and laborer For the next eight years Crumpler worked as a nurse for various doctors in the Boston area Her lack of formal training did not distinguish her from other nurses at the time as the first U S school for nurses ...

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Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician, was born a slave in North Carolina. Little else is known about her early life, including the names of her parents. In 1884 she enrolled in the normal course at Fisk University, and to pay for tuition she alternated each year of study with a year of picking cotton. She graduated in 1891.

Grier taught at Paine Normal School and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia, during the 1890–1891 school year, but her long-range goal was to become a physician. In 1890, just one year before her graduation from Fisk, she wrote to Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, inquiring about aid that was available to “an emancipated slave” who wanted to enter “so lofty a profession.” No doubt Grier had heard about the school from her mentor and friend Emily Howland a Quaker teacher and suffragette from upstate New York who had gone south to participate ...

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Bruce L. Mouser

trader, traditional medical practitioner, and political arbiter, was born on the coast of Guinea-Conakry. She is also known as Elizabeth, Beth, and Liza Heard. Her likely father was a British merchant attached to commercial firms maintaining factories at Bance Island in the Sierra Leone River or on the nearby Iles de Los. It was customary for African headmen to arrange a husband/wife relationship for resident foreign “strangers”—of which Heard’s father was likely one. Her mother’s name and relationship to local leaders are unknown. At a young age, Betsy was recognized as exceptionally intelligent, and she was sent to Liverpool, where she was boarded and educated, with the expectation that she would return to the Windward Coast as an agent for European commerce and Liverpool interests.

By the 1790s Heard had established a commercial footing at Bereira on the southern Guinea Conakry coast At that time Bereira was a border ...

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Mary Krane Derr

physician and pharmacist, was born in Syracuse, New York, the fifth of eight children of Caroline (Storum) and Jermain Wesley Loguen, an African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church bishop. Close friends of Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Loguen Fraser's parents were themselves ardent abolitionists and women's rights supporters. Her mother's heritage was free black, Native American, and French Canadian. As her father recounted in his autobiography, The Reverend J.W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman (1859), he was conceived after his mother was raped by their white slaveholder in Davidson County, Tennessee. Jermain Loguen escaped North learned to read entered the ministry and vowed to spend his life liberating others from slavery The Loguens Syracuse house at East Genesee and Pine Streets was a critical station on the Underground Railroad that sheltered perhaps as many as 1 500 fugitives in ...

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Karen Jean Hunt

physician and educator, was born Alice Woodby in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Woodby and Elizabeth B. Frazier. As a child Alice suffered from the loss of her sight and remained blind for three years. After recovering she attended public schools in Bridgewater, less than thirty miles from Pittsburgh.

From 1884 to 1886 Woodby attended Hampton Institute in Virginia. Although she never graduated, Woodby fully embraced the Hampton principles of “education for life” and “learning by doing.” In an 1897 letter to the Southern Workman she explained her decision to leave Hampton: “Students were sent out to teach one year before graduating. Not wishing to become a teacher, I thought it best not to begin, for fear the temptation to continue might thwart my plans for obtaining my profession.”

Woodby entered the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1886 The ICY was one ...

Article

Susan Knoke Rishworth

physician, civil rights and women's suffrage activist, settlement worker, and clubwoman, was born Verina Harris in Ohio, one of five children of Charlotte (Kitty) Stanly, a schoolteacher, and the Reverend W. D. Harris, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Her mother came from a family of North Carolina free blacks who had inherited slaves that they wished to emancipate in the North before the impending Civil War. Around 1850 the family moved to Ohio, where Kitty Stanly and her husband taught school. The year of Verina Harris's birth is given as 1865 in some sources, but most probably it was between 1853 and 1857. Little is known about her early life, but the family apparently moved south to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1870 while her father was serving in an AME ministry in various locations in South Carolina More information ...

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Mary Krane Derr

physician and religious worker, was born Georgia Esther Lee Patton into slavery in mountainous Grundy County, southeast Tennessee, the youngest of her parents' many children. Little is known about her mother and father, both of whom were born into slavery in Tennessee. Georgia's mother was widowed while pregnant with her. When Georgia was two, the family settled nearby in Coffee County, where her mother took in laundry. The local school opened only a few weeks each year, if at all. Between her ninth and seventeenth years, Georgia's formal education totaled a mere twenty-six months.

When Georgia was sixteen her mother died and her siblings took over her care. They pooled their resources and sent her to Nashville's Central Tennessee College (later Walden University) in February 1882. However, she had to spend most of each year earning her living expenses instead of attending classes. By 1890 she completed ...

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Karen Jean Hunt

abolitionist, physician, and feminist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Remond and Nancy Lenox. Her father, a native of Curaçao, immigrated to the United States at age ten and became a successful merchant. Her mother was the daughter of African American Revolutionary War veteran Cornelius Lenox. Remond grew up in an antislavery household. Her father became a life member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1835, and her mother was founding member of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, which began as a black female organization in 1832. Sarah's brother, Charles Lenox Remond, was a well-known antislavery lecturer in the United States and Great Britain.

Sarah Parker Remond attended local public schools in Salem until black students were forced out by committee vote in 1835 Determined to educate their children in a less racist environment the Remond family moved ...

Article

Laura M. Calkins

physician, was born in Wales in the United Kingdom. While still a young child she moved with her parents to Holland Patent, New York. As a youngster Roberts became very ill with an unspecified malady that, according to contemporary accounts, seemed “likely to promise for her only a life of invalidism.” Roberts's parents arranged for her to be cared for in Utica, New York, by the white physician and homoeopathist Dr. Caroline Brown Winslow.

Brown, a native of Utica, had earned MD degrees at the Eclectic Medical College in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1853 and at the Western College of Homeopathy in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1855 or 1856. Then unmarried, Brown practiced in Utica between 1856 and 1864, and it was during this period that she began to care for Grace Roberts. When Brown moved to Washington, D.C., in 1864 to assist in the care ...

Article

physician, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Sylvanus Smith, a pork merchant, and Ann Springstead. She grew up in a farming community with her large, prosperous family. As a teenager she learned to play the organ, studying under two prominent New York City practitioners, John Zundel and Henry Eyre Brown. She became an accomplished organist, but she had other goals. The deaths of two of her brothers during the Civil War and the high death rates from a cholera epidemic in Brooklyn in 1866 may have influenced her choice of a medical career. Her versatile mind and disciplined approach earned her an MD in 1870 from the New York Medical College for Women. She thus became the first African American woman to graduate from a medical school in the state of New York and only the third in the United States.

In 1874 ...