doctor of ophthalmology, inventor, medical researcher, and advocate for social equity in health care, was born in Harlem, New York, the daughter of Rupert and Gladys Bath. A one-time merchant marine and global traveler, her father emigrated from Trinidad, taking a position as the first black motorman for the New York City subways, and her mother, a descendant of African slaves and Cherokee Indians, Bath tells her biographers, “was a housewife who worked as a domestic after we entered middle school. … She scrubbed floors so I could go to medical school” (Davidson). A brilliant student, Bath attended New York's Charles Evans Hughes High School and in 1959 was selected for a National Science Foundation summer program at Yeshiva University. Working on a cancer research team, Bath demonstrated the future potential of her work in science and medicine and was recognized as one of Mademoiselle magazine s Merit Award ...
Pamela C. Edwards
Byfield, Eumeda “Cherry”
nurse, affectionately known as “Cherry,” was born Eumeda Powis in the largely rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, on 16 January 1939. Her father, Ferdinal Powis, was a farmer. Her mother’s name and occupation are unknown. She attended the Collington and Crooked River Schools in the parish, and later, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she went on to receive a tertiary education in Great Britain, attending Trafford College and Manchester Polytechnic. Her studies at the tertiary level established her in the field of healthcare, in which she had a distinguished career. She married Arthur S. Byfield and gave birth to two children while residing in Britain for over thirty years. It was here that Byfield did extensive work in nursing. Nursing was not her only passion, however. She was committed to community development in both Britain and her home county of Jamaica.
Byfield took refuge in her work ...
Cannon, George Epps
Dennis C. Dickerson
physician and social and political activist, was born one of twelve children to Barnett Glenn Cannon and Mary Tucker Cannon, a former slave. He was born in Fishdam (later Carlisle), South Carolina. Northern Presbyterians offered education for Cannon at the Brainerd Institute in South Carolina and at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Hearing that J. C. Price, a prominent African American educator and African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) minister, was a Lincoln graduate convinced Cannon to attend the Presbyterian school. Work as a Pullman porter covered his expenses at Lincoln, and as an athletic and abstemious undergraduate he emerged as a leader among his peers in the class of 1893. He became one of nine classmates to enter medicine, and like another Lincoln graduate, Eugene P. Roberts, class of 1891 he entered the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital Again his position as a porter ...
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 ...
Davis, Frances Elliott
Davis, Frances Elliott (28 April 1882–02 May 1965), public health nurse, nurse-educator, and community advocate was born in Shelby North Carolina the daughter of an unlawful interracial marriage between Darryl Elliott a part African American Cherokee sharecropper and Emma maiden name unknown the daughter of a plantation owner and Methodist minister Darryl Elliott fled the state early in Frances s life leaving her to be raised by her mother Both parents had died by 1887 after which Davis was raised in a succession of foster homes At the age of twelve she was sent to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where she lived under the guardianship of the Reverend Mr Vickers In the Vickers household she was regarded more as a domestic helper than a ward consequently her early formal education was pursued on a sporadic basis Determined to succeed she possessed the intrepidity to upgrade her reading skills on ...
Davis, Frances Elliott
nurse, educator, and community advocate, was born in Shelby, North Carolina, the daughter of an unlawful interracial marriage between Darryl Elliott, a part African American Cherokee sharecropper, and Emma (maiden name unknown), the daughter of a plantation owner and Methodist minister. Darryl Elliott fled the state early in Davis's life, leaving her to be raised by her mother. Both parents had died by 1887, after which Davis was raised in a succession of foster homes. At the age of twelve she was sent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lived under the guardianship of the Reverend Vickers. In the Vickers household she was regarded more as a domestic helper than a ward; consequently her early formal education was pursued on a sporadic basis. Determined to succeed, she possessed the intrepidity to improve her reading skills on her own.
In 1896 at the age of fourteen ...
Ferebee, Dorothy Boulding
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 ...
Ferebee, Dorothy Celeste Boulding
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 ...
Hale, Millie E.
Laticia Ann Marie Willis
nurse, social activist, and hospital founder, was born Millie Essie Gibson in Nashville, Tennessee, one of five children of Henry Gibson, a blacksmith, and Nannie Gibson. Millie spent her childhood in Nashville, having attended Pearl Elementary School from 1888 to 1892 and graduating from Fisk University's Normal School in 1901. She moved to New York City in order to study nursing at the Graduate School of Nurses there. Later, in 1927, she received her BA degree from Fisk. On 20 December 1905 she married John Henry Hale, who taught at Nashville's Meharry Medical College. They had two daughters, Mildred and Essie.
Hale returned from New York committed to improving health care for Nashville's African American community. On 1 July 1916 she founded the Millie E Hale Hospital which became the first year round hospital in the city to provide health care ...
Hargrave, Frank Settle
E. Renée Ingram
physician and surgeon who specialized in pulmonary medicine, was born in Lexington, Davidson County, North Carolina. He was the son of Henry M. and Laura Hargrave, farmers, and one of fourteen children; he attended local public schools in Lexington before attending the state normal school in Salisbury, North Carolina. Hargrave received a BS from Shaw University in 1901 and an MD from Leonard Medical School. Founded in 1885, Leonard Medical School was one of the first medical schools in the United States to have a four-year curriculum. It also was the first four-year medical school to train African American doctors and pharmacists in the South. Hargrave practiced medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from 1901 to 1903 before relocating his private medical practice to Wilson, North Carolina, where he practiced from 1903 to 1924 and established the Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home. Hargrave married Bessie E Parker ...
Howe, Samuel Gridley
Jessica M. Parr
Samuel Gridley Howe was born to a prominent Boston family. His father, Joseph Neals Howe, owned a rope-manufacturing company in this thriving port city. His mother, Patty Gridley, was renowned for her beauty. Howe entered the Boston Latin School at the age of eleven, graduating in 1818. At the age of seventeen he entered Brown University, the only one of the three Howe sons to attend college, owing to a decline in the family's financial situation.
Following Howe's graduation from Brown in 1821, he matriculated at the Harvard Medical School. After he completed his medical studies in 1824, his restless nature and democratic sensibilities led him to join the Greek army as a surgeon and soldier during the Greek war of independence. Howe returned to Boston in 1831, where he met a friend from his undergraduate days named John Dix Fisher. In 1829 Fisher ...
Johnson, Peter August
physician, was born near Eatontown, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Johnson and Martha A. Frazier. Before moving to New York, where he would spend his entire professional career, Peter attended Roger Smith High School in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing additional studies at Clark's Collegiate Institute in New York, Johnson enrolled at the Long Island College Hospital (a precursor to the College of Medicine of the State University of New York Health Science Center of Brooklyn), a reputable private institution. On his graduation from the Brooklyn medical school in 1882, Johnson became the fifth black graduate of the institution, forty-five years after the first African American to earn a professional degree in medicine, James McCune Smith, had earned his degree in Scotland. Johnson initially practiced medicine in New York under the guidance of David K. McDonough a physician who had been born a slave ...
McKinney-Steward, Susan Maria Smith
As a child, Susan Maria Smith McKinney-Steward trained and performed as an organist. Her early training qualified her for teaching positions, and she taught school in Washington, D.C., and New York City, using the proceeds of her New York teaching to pay tuition for medical school.
McKinney-Steward began medical study at the New York Medical College for Women in 1867. She specialized in homeopathic medicine and graduated as class valedictorian after three years. After receiving her degree she achieved wealth and a local reputation as a successful Brooklyn physician with an interracial clientele. McKinney-Steward excelled especially in pediatric care and the treatment of childhood diseases. Outside her medical practice she agitated for social reform, advocating female suffrage and temperance. Until the early 1890s she remained the organist for the African Methodist Episcopal church where she regularly worshiped.
Both of McKinney Steward s husbands were ministers She was ...
Pierce, Chester Middlebrook
was born in Glen Cove, New York to Hettie Armstrong Pierce and Samuel R. Pierce, who worked in a country club on Long Island. Both parents were working class migrants from the South. The U.S. Census for 1930 records that three-year-old Chester was living with his father, mother, a newborn brother Burton, and an elder brother,
After completing his education as an honor student at Glen Cove High School, Chester Pierce matriculated at Harvard College earning a Bachelor’s Degree in 1948 and his M D degree from the Harvard Medical School four years later In addition to his strengths as an academic Pierce also proved to be an outstanding athlete starring on the Harvard College football basketball and lacrosse teams Many sources credit Pierce as the first ...
Scholes, Theophilus Edward Samuel
Doctor and writer who was born in Jamaica and grew up in Stewart Town. He studied medicine in Glasgow, later touring Scotland and Ireland to raise funds for Africans to Christianize Africa. He left for the Congo in 1886, where he ran a sanatorium. He returned to Europe in 1887 and eventually took an MD degree at Brussels in 1893; in the same year he went to the African Training Institute at Colwyn Bay, a training school for Africans. He went to Calabar, Nigeria, for the Institute. This experience stimulated his writing, and in 1899 he published The British Empire and Alliances: Britain's Duty to Her Colonies and Subject Races, in which he attacked the disparagement of Africans and pointed out the similarities across societies in development. In 1903 his Chamberlain and Chamberlainism: His Fiscal Policies and Colonial Policy attacked the controversial Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain ...