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Abbott, Anderson Ruffin  

Dalyce Newby

surgeon, was born in Toronto, Upper Canada (now Ontario), the son of Wilson Ruffin Abbott, a businessman and properties investor, and Mary Ellen Toyer. The Abbotts had arrived in Toronto around 1835, coming from Mobile, Alabama, via New Orleans and New York. Wilson Abbott became one of the wealthiest African Canadians in Toronto. Anderson received his primary education in Canadian public and private schools. Wilson Abbott moved his family to the Elgin Settlement in 1850, providing his children with a classical education at the famed Buxton Mission School. Anderson Abbott, a member of the school's first graduating class, continued his studies at-the Toronto Academy, where he was one of only three African Americans. From 1856 to 1858 he attended the preparatory department at Oberlin College, afterward returning to Toronto to begin his medical training.

At age twenty three Abbott graduated from the Toronto School of ...

Article

Adams, Numa Pompilius Garfield  

Shari Rudavsky

physician and medical educator, 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. Numa received additional instruction and inspiration from his grandmother Amanda, a midwife who shared with him the secrets of herbal medicine. When Numa 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 how to play.

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 Orchestra a dance band composed mostly of ...

Article

Adams, Numa Pompilius Garfield  

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

Allen-Noble, Rosie  

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

Allensworth, Josephine Leavell  

Venise Wagner

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

Anderson, Caroline Virginia Still Wiley  

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 ...

Article

Andrews, Ludie  

Shari Rudavsky

nursing educator and administrator, was born in Milledgeville, Georgia, the daughter of a poor family about whom nothing is known. In 1901 Andrews applied to Spelman College's MacVicar Hospital School of Nursing. On her application, she asked for financial assistance, explaining that her family could not help her pay. Her mother had a large family to support and “an old flicted husband,” who was not Andrews's father. Andrews also said that she had been married but did not currently live with her husband and expected no support from him. Letters praising Andrews and talking about her “good moral character” that came from the pillars of Milledgeville society proved instrumental in securing Andrews's admission.

In 1906 Andrews received her diploma from Spelman and set upon her life s work During her training she resolved that I wanted to work for my people how or where this was to be done ...

Article

Anthony, Lucinda (Lucie), Bragg  

Charles Rosenberg

was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, the daughter of George Freeman Bragg, a carpenter, and Mary Bragg, who generally did not work outside of the home. Her status as enslaved or free at birth is not known. She had one brother, George Freeman Bragg Jr., later an Episcopal clergyman, and two sisters, Caroline and Della. Some sources suggest an 1870 birthdate for Lucie, but this is unlikely since in 1865 the family moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where her father served as junior warden of the Episcopal Church. Her paternal grandmother, under Virginia law, had been the property of an Episcopal priest in Petersburg, and, toward the end of her life, she helped to found St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for Negroes.

Lucinda Bragg contracted the first of three marriages on 20 November 1878 to Edward Peters who worked as a hired house servant The couple lived for a time ...

Article

Augusta, Alexander Thomas  

Dalyce Newby

physician, Civil War surgeon, and medical educator, was born free in Norfolk, Virginia, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. Augusta received his early education from a Bishop Payne, defying a law that forbade African Americans to read or write. He continued to improve his reading skills while working as an apprentice to a barber. His interest in medicine led him to relocate to Baltimore, where he studied with private tutors. Eventually, Augusta moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to serve an apprenticeship. Although he was denied entry to the University of Pennsylvania, Augusta caught the attention of Professor William Gibson, who allowed the young man to study in his office.

In January 1847 Augusta married Mary O. Burgoin in Baltimore They lived in California for three years before returning to the East Coast so that Augusta could pursue a medical degree Denied access despite his prior training in medicine ...

Article

Augusta, Alexander Thomas  

Dalyce Newby

Alexander Thomas Augusta was born a free African American in Norfolk, Virginia, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. Augusta received his early education from a Bishop Payne, defying a law that forbade African Americans to read or write. He continued to improve his reading skills while working as an apprentice to a barber. His interest in medicine led him to relocate to Baltimore, Maryland, where he studied with private tutors. Eventually, Augusta moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to serve an apprenticeship. Although he was denied entry to the University of Pennsylvania, Augusta caught the attention of Professor William Gibson, who allowed the young man to study in his office.

In January 1847 Augusta married Mary O. Burgoin in Baltimore Maryland They lived in California for three years before returning to the East Coast so that Augusta could pursue a medical degree Denied access ...

Article

Barnes, William Harry  

Billy Scott

physician, otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist), inventor, and administrator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George W. Barnes, a laborer, and Eliza Webb Barnes and his two sisters lived poverty stricken lives on Lombard Street in a very poor area of the city Barnes decided at an early age to become a physician a decision unheard of and regarded in his neighborhood as preposterous His parents tried to discourage him from pursuing what to them seemed an impossible dream for a poor black youth hoping rather that he would focus on finding realistic employment Nevertheless determined Barnes walked ten miles every day to and from school and from his after school work as a porter and messenger for jewelry shops During summers he worked as a porter in hotels Seeing those who lived a far different and more elegant life than his own inspired ...

Article

Baumgardner, Herbert Wycliffe  

Marleny Guzman

psychology professor and journalist, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Frances G. Green Baumgardner and her husband James L. Baumgardner (sometimes spelled Bumgardner). Both his parents were teachers at Allen University in Columbia; James taught math and theology. In one source Frances Baumgardner's maiden name is listed as Ramsay. Little is known about Herbert's childhood, but he was the second child, with an older brother, Luther Ovid, and two younger sisters, Thelma and Victoria. The 1910 census suggests that all four children were living with their parents at 2330 Plain Street (later Hampton Street) in Columbia. The home, which the Baumgardners owned outright without a mortgage appears to have been in a “neighborhood of predominately middle and upper income residences” (Trinkley and Hacker, pp. 45–46). As of 1910 two lodgers were also living in the home which would have provided additional income for the family Luther O ...

Article

Beckham, Albert Sidney  

Charles Rosenberg

one of the first African American psychologists, who established at Howard University the first psychology laboratory at any historically black institute of higher education, was born in Camden, South Carolina, to Calvin and Elizabeth James Beckham. Evidence for his date of birth varies. While 21 September 1897 is commonly published, a World War I draft registration records his year of birth as 1893, a second World War I draft registration provides the date 21 August 1897 (it appears he registered again after moving to a new address), and his World War II draft registration card records 21 September 1894. The 1910 census lists his age as sixteen, supporting the 1893 date.

His father owned a retail grocery business in Camden, and his early education was in Presbyterian schools. By 1910 he was the middle of five children; Carrie and Willis were older, Ernest and Arline ...

Article

Beckham, Ruth Winifred Howard  

Tiffany K. Wayne

psychologist, social worker, and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the eighth and youngest child of Reverend and Mrs. William James Howard. Ruth Howard loved reading as a child and originally considered becoming a librarian but, after three years at Howard University, she transferred to Simmons College in Boston and changed her major to social work.

In the early decades of the twentieth century social work was a new professional field for women and especially for black women Most African American women in the early decades of the twentieth century were confined to jobs as domestic workers or if they entered the professional class as teachers But at Simmons Howard was introduced to new role models and new career possibilities Through a summer internship with the National Urban League she became inspired by the need for community programs for disadvantaged youth including education recreation and job ...

Article

Bessent, Hattie  

Mary Krane Derr

nursing educator and administrator, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. Little information is available about her parents or other aspects of her personal background. When she was nine years old Bessent lost her mother. Her grandmother then raised her, instilling in her a strong belief that self‐giving is the measure of personal worth. After graduating from high school in Jacksonville, Bessent worked as a laboratory and X‐ray technician, an unusual job for a black woman of her time and place but one that led to her groundbreaking career in nursing.

During and after slavery African Americans especially women often served as lay healers and tenders of the sick Starting in the nineteenth century as nursing became a more formally organized profession the color line sliced through it Even though black communities urgently needed more health care black nurses were denied membership in the American Nurses Association ANA educational opportunities and all ...

Article

Brahim, Mariam  

Jeremy Rich

Chadian medical doctor, was born on 16 June 1956 in the eastern Chadian city of Abéché Her parents were Brahim Djadarab and Fatimé Fadoul She had four siblings her brother Issa Michel and her sisters Khalié Sadié Ibni Oumar Mahamet Saleh and Rakié The entire family attended primary school in Abéché and Brahim excelled in her education Her family supported her studies and she completed her secondary education at the Lycée Franco Arabe at Abéché Her father pressured her to study English but she found the language impractical in eastern Chad Even so she learned the language which would later prove to be extremely useful when she lived in Canada Her commitment to school impressed her Chadian and foreign teachers Missionaries and her family also strongly encouraged her Since there were no final classes to prepare for the baccalaureate examinations in Abéché in the early 1970s she had to ...

Article

Brodhead, John Henry  

Charles Rosenberg

teacher and educational psychologist, was born in Washington, New Jersey, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Brodhead. His father, born in New York, was an assistant chef on a railroad cafe car, and his mother, born in Pennsylvania, a laundress at a hotel. He had one older brother, Frank E., and an older sister, Annie. Their father died prior to 1910.

Brodhead graduated from West Chester State Normal School, Pennsylvania, in 1919, and began teaching in the West Chester public schools, boarding with W. J. Williams, his wife, Mary, and infant son, William Jr. During the early 1920s he moved to Philadelphia, beginning a lifelong career in the city's public school system. He married Fleta Marie Jones, a native of Philadelphia, around 1924. Their only child, a daughter named for her mother, was born 12 August 1928.

While teaching ...

Article

Brown, Sara Winifred  

Charles Rosenberg

was born in Winchester, Virginia, the daughter of Charles C. Brown and Mariah Fairfax Brown. Her father was a barber, sufficiently prosperous that her mother did not work outside the home. During the second half of the nineteenth century, this was a point of pride for families of African descent. Men who had had limited legal rights, if free, or no ability to protect their family, if enslaved, sought affirmation in their ability to support the family and keep it together as a unit. In addition, simply maintaining a household was a tremendous amount of labor prior to development of mechanical and electrical devices, or even municipal water systems. During her childhood, Brown’s maternal grandmother, Sarah Fairfax, born in 1809, lived with the family. Like many families in the nineteenth century, they took in boarders to supplement household income.

Little is known about Brown s early years It was ...

Article

Burroughs, Nannie Helen  

Alonford James Robinson

Nannie Helen Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia, to John and Jennie Poindexter Burroughs. She later moved with her mother and sister to Washington, D.C. In that district she graduated from the Colored High School in 1896 and took a job at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office of the Christian Banner. Burroughs then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, and worked as a bookkeeper and editorial secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention (NBC). She also organized the Women's Industrial Club there.

At the NBC annual meeting in 1900, Burroughs gave an impassioned speech entitled “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping.” She went on to found the Women's Convention, an auxiliary to the NBC, serving as its secretary for forty-eight years, from 1900 to 1948, and as president from 1948 to 1961. In 1907 Burroughs claimed that the Women ...

Article

Burroughs, Nannie Helen  

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

As a national leader in education at age twenty-one, Nannie Helen Burroughs was catapulted to fame after presenting the speech “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping” at the annual conference of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) in Richmond, Virginia, in 1900. Her outspoken eloquence articulated the righteous discontent of women in the black Baptist church and served as a catalyst for the formation of the largest black women’s organization in America—the Woman’s Convention Auxiliary to the NBC. Some called her an upstart because she led the organization in the struggle for women’s rights, antilynching laws, desegregation, and industrial education for black women and girls. Most people, however, considered her an organizational genius. At the helm of the National Baptist Woman’s Convention for more than six decades, Burroughs remained a tireless and intrepid champion of black pride and women’s rights.

Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia to John ...