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Mohamed Adhikari

South African medical doctor and politician, the most significant political leader of the South African Coloured community during the first half of the twentieth century, was born in Wellington near Cape Town on 12 December 1872. He was the eldest son of nine children born to Abdul Rachman, a greengrocer, and his wife Kadija Dollie. Descended from grandparents who were manumitted slaves, his graduation as a medical doctor from the University of Glasgow in 1893 was a signal achievement. After two years of postgraduate study in London, he returned to Cape Town in 1895.

Abdurahman entered public life in 1904 when he became the first black person to be elected to the Cape Town City Council. Except for 1913–1915 he represented Wards 6 and 7 District 6 for the rest of his life Abdurahman exerted substantial influence on local government because of the exceptional support he enjoyed ...

Article

Sherri J. Norris

chemical engineer and environmental engineering entrepreneur, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the second of four daughters of Ernest Buford Abron and Bernice Wise Abron, both educators. Abron was educated in Memphis public schools and was a member of the National Honor Society. Abron divorced and had three sons, Frederick, Ernest, and David; she is occasionally credited as Lilia Ann Abron-Robinson.

Abron stayed close to home when she attended LeMoyne College, a historically black college in Memphis, Tennessee. She considered medical school, but she was persuaded by her advisor, Dr. Beuler, to pursue a career in engineering instead. Her decision was a risky one. She did not know of any African Americans with engineering degrees who were actually working as engineers; instead, she once said in an interview, they were often working in post offices. In 1966 Abron received her BS in Chemistry from ...

Article

Erin Royston Battat

the first African American to publish an autobiography about conversion to Catholicism, was born in Santa Barbara, California, the only child of Lula Josephine Holden Adams, a painter, and Daniel Henderson Adams, a hotel headwaiter. Daniel and Lula Adams provided a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle for their daughter and raised her according to strict rules of courtesy, manners, and obedience. Shortly after Adams's birth the family moved to Los Angeles, where she attended an integrated primary school.

Adams and her parents fell victim to the influenza epidemic of 1918–1919. Mother and daughter returned to temperate Santa Barbara in 1920 at their doctor's recommendation and would suffer from chronic illness for the rest of their lives. Adams's father continued to work in Los Angeles for another four years and then died suddenly in 1924 shortly before he was to join the family in Santa Barbara During this period ...

Article

Shari Rudavsky

Numa Pompilius Garfield Adams was born in Delaplane, Virginia. Little is known about Adams's family and early life. He attended a country school run by his uncle Robert Adams. Adams received additional instruction and inspiration from his grandmother Amanda, a midwife who shared with him the secrets of herbal medicine. When Adams was thirteen, his family moved to Steelton, Pennsylvania. Soon Adams taught himself how to read music and purchased a used cornet, which he taught himself to play, a skill that later helped him pay for his education.

After graduating from high school in 1905, Adams spent a year as a substitute teacher in Steelton and another year teaching seventh grade in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. These jobs helped him earn sufficient money to pay for his college education, and in 1907 he left Pennsylvania to enter Howard University in Washington, D.C. He soon joined the Lyric ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian poet, critic, broadcaster, painter, and physician, was born in the al-Hanafy district in Cairo. His father, Muhammad Abu Shadi, was the head of the Egyptian Bar Association and his mother, Amina Naguib, was a poetess. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cairo and was involved in antioccupation activities during his adolescence. He joined the faculty of medicine (named Qasr al-Aini) and then traveled to London in 1912 to complete his studies in medicine at the University of London where he obtained a certificate of honor from Saint George Hospital in 1915. He married a British woman and lived with her in Egypt until her death in 1945. Following his return to Egypt in 1922, he served in many governmental posts in such places as the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. In 1946 he immigrated to the United States ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

Manager of a hostel for Africans in London in the 1920s and wife of Dr John Alcindor. Born in London of a French father, raised by her mother's family, she trained as a journalist. She was disowned by her family after her marriage in 1911 to John Alcindor, a Trinidadian.

While raising their three children, John (1912), Cyril (1914), and Roland (Bob, 1917), Alcindor also assisted her husband in his west London medical practice, often dealing with patients herself when the Harrow Road surgery was closed.

Along with her husband, Alcindor was active in the Pan‐Africanist movement (see Pan‐Africanism), and during the early 1920s was one of only two white women to serve on the committee of the London‐based African Progress Union, over which her husband presided from 1921.

Her husband's death in 1924 left the ...

Article

Pamela Blackmon

physicist, inventor, and educator, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the eldest of two sons of Arletta (Dixon) Alcorn and George Alcorn, an auto mechanic. Little is known of his early life. George Alcorn Jr. earned a BA in Physics in 1962 from Occidental College in Pasadena, California, where he excelled both academically and athletically, earning eight letters in football and baseball. His educational pursuits took him next to Howard University, where he received a master's degree in Nuclear Physics after only nine months of study. During the summers of 1962 and 1963 Alcorn worked as a research engineer at the space division of North American Rockwell, where he computed trajectories and orbital mechanics for missiles, including the Titan I and II, the Saturn IV, and the Nova.

From 1965 to 1967 Alcorn researched negative ion formation with funded support from the National Aeronautics and Space ...

Article

Charles E. Wynes

Alexander, Archie Alphonso (14 May 1888–04 January 1958), engineer was born in Ottumwa Iowa the son of Price Alexander a janitor and coachman and Mary Hamilton The Alexanders were members of a tiny African American minority both in the town of Archie s birth and in Des Moines Iowa where they moved when he was eleven years old In Ottumwa the Alexanders lived in the section of town inhabited by the poor both black and white in Des Moines they lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town Since Iowa s public schools were not segregated young Alexander attended school with whites graduating from Des Moines s Oak Park High School in 1905 Then uncommon for the son of a janitor whether black or white he went on to further study By working hard at part time jobs and with some help from his parents ...

Article

Charles E. Wynes

engineer, was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, the son of Price Alexander, a janitor and coachman, and Mary Hamilton. The Alexanders were members of a tiny African American minority both in the town of Archie's birth and in Des Moines, Iowa, where they moved when he was eleven years old. In Ottumwa the Alexanders lived in the section of town inhabited by the poor, both black and white. In Des Moines they lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town. Since Iowa's public schools were not segregated, Alexander attended school with whites, and he graduated from Des Moines's Oak Park High School in 1905 Then uncommon for the son of a janitor whether black or white he went on to further study By working hard at part time jobs and with some help from his parents Alexander attended Highland Park College and the Cummins Art ...

Article

Harold N. Burdett

physician and state legislator, was born in Beeville, Texas, the son of James and Mary Etta Whitby Allen. His parents separated when he was an infant. When Allen was six years old, his mother, feeling that he needed male guidance and discipline, sent him to San Antonio to be reared by his father a hotel bellman Even while attending elementary school he was expected to earn his keep selling newspapers delivering clothes for a local tailor and at the age of twelve serving as a hotel washroom attendant Allen excelled in the classroom through primary and junior high schools But apparently in his final year of junior high he left school after a classmate harassed him for wearing his father s clothing He was soon hired as a busboy in a hotel dining room and within two years found employment as a waiter at a San Antonio hotel ...

Article

Ginny Crosthwait

professor and educationaladministrator, was born Rosie Elizabeth Allen in Americus, Georgia, to Ulysses Grant Allen and Velma Douglas Allen. After completing a BS in Biology at Albany State College in Georgia, Allen-Noble taught in three Georgia high schools: the Vienna High and Industrial School (1960–1961), West Point High School (1962–1963), and Carver High School in Columbus (1963–1964). She also served as chairperson of the biology department at Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia, from 1965 to 1970. Allen-Noble and Daniel Bernard Noble married in April 1964 and divorced in April 1968. They have one child, Antoinette Celine Noble-Webb.

While working on a master's degree in zoology at Atlanta University, Allen-Noble taught courses in biology, anatomy, and physiology at Spelman College, also in Atlanta (1965–1966). She completed the MS in 1967. From 1970 to 1976 she ...

Article

pianist, educator, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Trenton, Kentucky, to Mary Dickinson, also a slave, and Mr. Leavell, likely a scion of the white Benjamin Leavell family, pioneers of Trenton. According to family history, Josephine's father wanted to send her and her sister to Canada on the Underground Railroad, but their mother objected because of the danger and distance. Sometime between 1868 and 1875 Josephine attended the Nashville Normal and Theological Institute (also known as the Baptist Institute), a college for African Americans that was later renamed Roger Williams University. Daniel W. Phillips, a white Baptist minister, had started the school in 1864, teaching Bible classes to freed people in his home. The school was later acquired by Vanderbilt University and incorporated into its George Peabody campus, a teachers' college.

While at the Baptist Institute Josephine studied music particularly piano and ...

Article

Thomas O. Fox and Jocelyn Spragg

scientist and educator, was born in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the second of nine children, to Howard R. Amos Sr., a Philadelphia postman, and Iola Johnson, who had been adopted by and worked for a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family who schooled her with their own children at home. This family remained lifelong friends of Iola and kept the young Amos family well supplied with books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur, which piqued Harold's interest in science in the fourth grade. Both Howard and Iola expected their children to be serious about their education and to excel academically. Harold, along with his siblings, took piano lessons and remained a competent amateur pianist. He also gained a reputation as an excellent tennis player.

Harold received his early education in a segregated school in Pennsauken then graduated first in his class from Camden High School in New Jersey He ...

Article

Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

physical organic chemist and pioneer F-19 synthetic organic chemist, was born in Altheimer, Arkansas, one of six children of parents who were sharecroppers. Her father, Charlie Long, had a third-grade education and her mother, Elsie Lee Foggie Long, a tenth-grade education. Gloria entered school at age four already able to read. She attended the segregated schools in Arkansas, which had all-black faculty who encouraged the students to succeed.

Anderson graduated from Altheimer Training (High) School in 1954 at the age of sixteen She had no choice as to where to attend college as going to college out of state was financially impossible and at this time there were no affirmative action admissions to college so in state student admissions would have taken precedence over out of state black student admissions At the time Arkansas A M now called the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was the only college ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

David De Clue

astronaut, was born Michael Phillip Anderson in Plattsburgh, New York, to Barbara and Andy “Bobby” Anderson. Because his father was a member of the United States Air Force, young Anderson moved regularly until the family settled in Spokane, Washington, in the 1960s. It was there that he attended public schools and became fascinated with America's space race. Michael would wear goggles when cutting lawns because he knew that he needed to protect his eyes in order to be an astronaut.

After high school Anderson went to the University of Washington, where in 1981 he received a bachelor of science degree in Physics and Astronomy, and then went to Creighton University, where he received a master of science degree in Physics in 1990 As an undergraduate he received pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma and as a postgraduate he piloted KC 130 and T 38 transport ...

Article

Juanita de Barros

was born in St. Catherine’s parish in Jamaica. He was the son of Martha Gregory and the stepson of James M. Gregory, a Baptist minister. A scholarship allowed him to attend secondary school and, like other Afro–West Indians who lacked the financial resources to study medicine in foreign universities, he first worked as a hospital dispenser. Anderson later went to the United States to continue his studies; he attended historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Medical College before returning to Jamaica in 1916, where he joined a small but growing number of African-descended physicians in Jamaica in this period. Anderson established a private medical practice, but he soon became involved in municipal politics.

In 1919 Anderson was elected to the parochial board for St Andrew parish and his position as a medical doctor and a municipal politician gave him a platform to address issues ...

Article

Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

first African American member of the Oklahoma City Council, family physician, and civic leader, was born in Trinidad, West Indies, to Gertrude St. John, a domestic worker, and John Atkins. He had one younger sister. Charles Atkins immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island in March 1929. He was required to attend Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York City, because the United States did not accept his education credentials from Trinidad. One of the first black students at DeWitt, he graduated in 1933. Aided by the Urban League, he worked as a summer counselor to earn money for college. Although he took some classes at City College of New York, he moved to North Carolina to attend St. Augustine's, an Episcopalian historically black college in Raleigh. He graduated in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. On 27 March 1943Atkins ...