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Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Nathaniel Calloway was a man of many talents. He started his career as a chemist, graduating from Iowa State University (then College) in 1930 and earning his Ph.D. in 1933. After publishing influential research and teaching at both Tuskegee Institute and Fisk University, Calloway decided to enter medical school. In 1940 he enrolled at the University of Chicago, but, denied the opportunity to treat white patients, he transferred to the University of Illinois, from which he received his M.D. in 1943.

After World War II (1939–1945)—during which he conducted research on recuperation theories—Calloway worked at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, ultimately becoming its director. In 1949 he founded an all-black group practice, and throughout the next fifteen years he combined his medical work with civil rights activism. From 1955 to 1960 Calloway served as president of the Chicago ...