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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 ...

Article

Joann Buckley

the son of Richard J. Bass, a shoe and clothing salesman, and Rosa Bass. Urbane and his five brothers and sisters grew up on East Duval Street in Richmond. After graduating from Virginia Union University in 1902, he earned his medical degree at Leonard Medical College of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1906. While there he met his future wife, Maude Vass, sister of another Leonard student, Rufus Vass.

After he married Maude, Bass opened a practice in his hometown, Richmond, Virginia. By 1909 the couple had moved to Fredericksburg, where he became the city’s first African American physician since Reconstruction to establish a medical practice and pharmacy. Bass’s practice on William Street was well received by the African American community. By 1917 his practice was growing as was his family nevertheless when America entered World War I this father of four volunteered One of ...

Article

Nicolás Ocaranza

slave and wet nurse for the South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar, was born on 13 August 1763 in San Mateo, Aragua State, in the general captaincy of Venezuela. She was best known as la negra Hipólita (Black Hipólita), and lived much of her life in San Mateo State, where the Bolívar family had sugar plantations dependent on black slave labor.

From 1773, at around age 10, Hipólita served as a domestic servant in the household of Juan Vicente Bolívar and Maria de la Concepcion Palacios y Blanco, the parents of Simón Bolívar, who owned over two hundred slaves across several estates engaged in mining and the cultivation of cacao. As was the custom in a society based on slavery, Hipólita took her master’s last name as her own.

In 1781 the Bolívar family moved some black slaves from the Santo Domingo de Macaira estate in Caucagua to the ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

surgeon and Tennessee legislator, was born to a single mother, Edna Brown, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When she was five months old, her mother placed her in the Troy Orphanage. In 1932Brown's mother reclaimed her daughter, but the two clashed and Brown ran away from home. She was subsequently taken in by Samuel Wesley and Lola Redmon. Brown obtained a job as a mother's helper in the W. F. Jarrett home and graduated from high school, possibly Troy High School, about 1937.

Several factors inspired Brown to become a surgeon. As a child, she entered the hospital for the removal of her tonsils and adenoids. She loved the special attention that she received and wanted to duplicate that experience for other patients. Later, in her teens, she attended a performance by the African American opera star Marian Anderson. Impressed by Anderson's greatness and graciousness, Brown ...

Article

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

Jeremy Rich

Senegalese medical researcher and government minister of health, was born in 1951 in Dakar, Senegal. She attended primary and secondary schools in Dakar, where she drew attention because of her aptitude for science and her athleticism. She played on the Senegalese national women’s basketball team in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Coll-Seck received a medical degree from the University of Dakar in 1978 and commenced her medical practice the same year. She worked as a doctor in hospitals in the French city of Lyons as well as her hometown of Dakar in the late 1970s and the 1980s.

In 1989 Coll-Seck was named to the faculty of the medical school of the University of Dakar and chief medical officer of infectious diseases at the Dakar public hospital. In the 1990s Coll Seck was noticed by the international medical and public health community for her ...

Article

Miguel Gonzalez Perez

was born in Bilwaskarma, in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region, on 10 November 1947. She is best known for the leading role she played in promoting the peace negotiation process that in 1986 ended a ten-year military conflict that pitted the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or Sandinista National Liberation Front) revolutionary government against the Miskito indigenous rebels who were struggling for autonomy along the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast. She is also an international advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Cunningham grew up in Waspam the capital city of the Wangki River region near the border with Honduras which is considered the motherland of the Miskito people She was born to Nester Judith Kain Nelson and Wilfred Bill Cunningham Davis both from Pearl Lagoon on the southern part of the Caribbean coast She grew up in a working class family of mixed cultural heritage of Miskito African and ...

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

Spencie Love

blood plasma scientist, surgeon, and teacher, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Richard Thomas Drew, a carpet-layer, and Nora Rosella Burrell. Drew adored his hard-working parents and was determined from an early age to emulate them. Drew's parents surrounded their children with the many opportunities available in Washington's growing middle-class black community: excellent segregated schools, solid church and social affiliations, and their own strong example. Drew's father was the sole black member of his union and served as its financial secretary.

Drew graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1922 and received a medal for best all around athletic performance he also won a scholarship to Amherst College At Amherst he was a star in football and track earning honorable mention as an All American halfback in the eastern division receiving the Howard Hill Mossman Trophy for bringing the greatest athletic ...

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

Xiomara Santamarina

civil rights litigant, known as Mum Bett, was born a slave in Claverack, New York, most likely to African parents. Mum Bett and her sister were owned by the Dutch Hogeboom family in Claverack. At an uncertain date, the sisters were sold to the family of John Ashley, a judge in the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas and a prominent citizen of Sheffield, Massachusetts. Little is known about Mum Bett's life with the Ashleys, but it probably resembled the life of many northern slaves during the eighteenth century. Most slaves lived in small households in close proximity to their owners and performed a wide range of tasks to support the North's diversified economy.

Mum Bett's decision to sue for freedom was sparked by an incident of cruelty that is prominent in accounts of her life. When her mistress, Hannah Ashley struck Mum Bett s sister in ...