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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 ...

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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

Charles Rosenberg

psychologist and expert in consumer behavior and marketing, was born in White Stone, Virginia. It is very likely, but not completely documented, that he was the son of James A. Bayton, a steamboat fireman, and his wife, Clara Bayton. Before 1920 he was sent to live in Philadelphia with his uncles George Bayton, a physician, and Wentworth Bayton, a hotel waiter, while his widowed mother worked as a live-in cook for a family in the District of Columbia (1910, 1920, 1930 censuses). There is no further record of his older sisters, Lucile and Rita. Many sources have assumed that the physician George Bayton, certainly the most important adult male in his childhood years, was James Bayton's father.

Graduating in 1931 from Temple University High School in Philadelphia Bayton enrolled at Howard University in Washington DC where he initially majored in chemistry with an eye ...

Article

E. Beardsley

physician, was born in Tipton, Missouri, the son of Willard Hayman Bousfield, a barber, and Cornelia Catherine Gilbert. From the start Bousfield exemplified what W. E. B. Du Bois meant by the term “talented tenth.” Awarded a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas in 1907, Bousfield earned his MD two years later from Northwestern University in Chicago and did an internship at Howard University's Freedmen's Hospital in 1910. He was lured back to Kansas City for his initial medical practice following an unlikely adventure in Brazil, where, when medical prospects dimmed, he took up prospecting for gold. Bousfield soon felt a need for a larger stage, and in 1914 with his new bride Maudelle Tanner Brown he shifted his base to Chicago There he embarked on a career of astounding breadth that took him to leadership positions in the business health medical philanthropic educational ...

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Miriam Sawyer

Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called African Americans in Aviation in Arizona, Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children ...

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Miriam Sawyer

aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Janet's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Janet's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. The youngest of seven children, Janet had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called “African Americans in Aviation in Arizona,” Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children were allowed to attend any church they chose They were ...

Article

Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician, businessman, and writer, was born in Madison County, Kentucky, the youngest of fifteen children of Eliza and Edwin, who were slaves. Burton and his mother remained on the plantation after Emancipation as paid laborers, and he continued working at the “old homestead” after her death in 1869 until he was sixteen, at which time he left following an altercation with the owner.

In 1880 Burton was “converted to God” and subsequently experienced an insatiable desire for learning. Despite discouraging comments from those who thought that twenty was too old to start school, Burton was not dissuaded and determined that nothing was going to prevent him from getting an education except sickness or death. Burton worked for one more year as a farmhand in Richmond, Kentucky. One January morning in 1881 he put a few items in a carpetbag and nine dollars and seventy five cents in his ...

Article

Floyd Jr. Ogburn

physician and politician, was born near Orangeburg, South Carolina. Born free and the youngest of seven children in a family with German African ancestry, he matured on an Orangeburg plantation, which his father, Darius, had inherited from his German father, who had settled in South Carolina in the early nineteenth century. The Crums owned and used forty-three slaves to farm their plantation, yet the close of the Civil War marked the death of Darius and their fortune.

The dissolution of the family fortune drove Crum's older brothers north in search of employment, but they helped him get an education. He graduated in 1875 from Avery Normal Institute in Charleston, South Carolina, and briefly attended the University of South Carolina shortly thereafter. In 1881 he obtained an MD degree from Howard University, establishing a medical practice in Charleston two years later. After setting up his medical practice Crum married Ellen ...

Article

Eric Gardner

writer, activist, minister, doctor, and businessman, was born in Washington, D.C., or nearby Maryland, probably to Thomas Detro (or Detrow), a stonemason, and his wife, Eleanor. Detter was educated in Washington, D.C., and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Little is known of his early years. In 1852 he traveled aboard the steamer John L. Stephens to San Francisco, where he worked as a barber before moving to Sacramento. He quickly became active in northern California's black community and was Sacramento's delegate to the state Colored Conventions of 1855, 1856, and 1857; the 1855 Convention named him to the Executive Board.

Apparently frustrated by the lack of civil rights progress in California, he left the state in late 1857 Over the next decade he traveled throughout Idaho Washington and Oregon spending extended periods in areas around Boise Walla Walla Idaho City ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

laborer and sharecropper and unwitting participant in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, was born Ernest L. Hendon in Roba, Alabama, to North and Mary Reed Hendon, sharecroppers. The family resided in rural Alabama, where Ernest Hendon spent his childhood working the family farm.

Hendon studied agriculture at the Macon County Training School. When his father died in 1933, Hendon helped his mother raise his nine siblings: Willie Harvey, Mary Lou, Johngiene, Mable, Louie, Girlie, Lydar, Willion, and North. The family was poor, enduring days of laboring under unforgiving weather conditions, tending small plots of land and picking cotton.

Like many others in his community Hendon suffered from mysterious physical ailments that often went undiagnosed and untreated With limited financial or social resources and in the midst of the oppressive and segregated South there was little opportunity for medical attention in sharecropper communities Travel to seek out a ...

Article

Blake Wintory

physician, drug store owner, and investor, was born Napoleon Bonaparte Houser near Gastonia, in Gaston County, North Carolina, the son of William H. Houser, a brick mason and contractor, and Fannie Houser, a housekeeper. The elder Houser's $600 in real estate and $200 in personal property, according to the 1870 U.S. census, made him one of the wealthiest black businessmen in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. The young Houser attended Charlotte public schools and worked as a farmhand on his father's farm from the age of nine until fourteen. At fourteen he began to work at his father's brick factory, and at age sixteen became his father's personal secretary.

In 1881 Houser entered the Presbyterian-affiliated Biddle University in Charlotte, and in 1887 attended the Leonard Medical School at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. After finishing medical school in 1891 he received his medical ...

Article

David T. Beito

physician, civil rights leader, and entrepreneur, was born Theodore Roosevelt Howard in the town of Murray, Calloway County, Kentucky, to Arthur Howard, a tobacco twister, and Mary Chandler, a cook for Will Mason, a prominent local white doctor and member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). Mason took note of the boy's work habits, talent, ambition, and charm. He put him to work in his hospital and eventually paid for much of his medical education. Howard later showed his gratitude by adding “Mason” as a second middle name.

Theodore Howard attended three SDA colleges: the all-black Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama; the predominantly white Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska; and the College of Medical Evangelists in Loma Linda, California. While at Union College he won the American Anti-Saloon League's national contest for best orator in 1930.

During his years in medical school in ...

Article

John Ernest

author, businessman, and nurse, was born into slavery near Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of a white man and a black woman, possibly John and Susan Hughes. When he was about six years old, Hughes was sold with his mother and two brothers to Dr. Louis a physician in Scottsville Virginia When Dr Louis died young Hughes was sold with his mother and brother to Washington Fitzpatrick also of Scottsville who soon sent him then about eleven years old to Richmond on the pretense of hiring him out to work on a canal boat Parting with his mother at such a young age was difficult even more difficult was his realization that he would never see his mother again For Hughes this experience became the central symbol of the fundamental inhumanity of the system of slavery a symbol to which he returns at key points in ...

Article

Erin Royston Battat

the first African American woman licensed as a pharmacist in Connecticut, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the eighth child of Anna (Houston) and Willis Samuel James. James's father escaped from a plantation in Virginia at the age of sixteen and ventured north with the help of the Underground Railroad. In 1874 he married Anna Houston and purchased a home in the North End of Hartford the following year. As suggested by professional portraits taken in the late nineteenth century, the James family identified with the self-sufficient black middle class of Hartford. While a tiny northern black elite existed there before the Civil War, the black middle class would expand during Anna Louise James's young adulthood, peaking during the Great Migration of 1915–1919.

James lost her mother in 1894 at the age of eight and was raised by her father with the help of relatives She graduated from ...

Article

Diana Kristine Durham

physician, hospital founder, and entrepreneur, was born in Anderson, South Carolina, to Green and Clara (Riley) Jenkins, the fourth child in a family of nine children. His father was a successful farmer who owned 319 acres of land and also owned and operated several businesses simultaneously, including a grocery store, a fish market, a theater, a dairy farm, and a wood farm. Green Jenkins had never attended school, but he was an articulate man who read exceptionally well and was also skilled in math. His wife Clara died a few months after the birth of her youngest child.

All the Jenkins children received their early education at the Taylor School in Anderson, South Carolina, and all pursued a college education. Whitner the sixth child died while attending the historically black Claflin College in Orangeburg but Joseph Newton became a Baptist minister and lecturer at Baylor ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

physician and community leader, was born Edith Mae Irby in Conway, Arkansas, to Mattie Irby, a domestic worker, and her husband Robert, a sharecropper. Several childhood experiences—some traumatic—shaped Edith's early choice of medicine as her profession and the relief of racial health disparities as her special focus. When she was only five, an illness rendered her unable to walk for eighteen months. At six she lost her thirteen-year-old sister and almost lost an older brother in a typhoid fever epidemic. She noticed that people who could afford more medical care fared better with the disease. When she was eight a horse-riding accident fatally injured her father.

The year of her father s death a white doctor and his family hired Edith to help care for their eighteen month old child They told Edith that she was highly intelligent and encouraged her to consider a medical career Members ...

Article

Jewish druggists in New York City founded Local 1199: Drugs, Hospital, and Health Care Employees Union in 1932. In 1958, the union began to organize the workers in voluntary hospitals in the New York area. These orderlies, nurses' aides, janitors, laundry workers, and food employees were mostly African American and Puerto Rican women with little education. Other labor unions had long ignored them. Prevented by state law from participating in collective bargaining, they worked without health care or minimum wage security, sometimes for as little as $28 for a forty-eight-hour week. Local 1199 organized a strike that lasted for forty-six days. By 1960, the union had expanded its membership by more than 15,000 hospital and nursing home workers, becoming a powerful advocate for minority labor.

Local 1199 saw the importance of linking labor and civil rights The union raised funds and sent volunteers to support ...

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Mary Krane Derr

physician and pharmacist, was born in Syracuse, New York, the fifth of eight children of Caroline (Storum) and Jermain Wesley Loguen, an African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church bishop. Close friends of Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Loguen Fraser's parents were themselves ardent abolitionists and women's rights supporters. Her mother's heritage was free black, Native American, and French Canadian. As her father recounted in his autobiography, The Reverend J.W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman (1859), he was conceived after his mother was raped by their white slaveholder in Davidson County, Tennessee. Jermain Loguen escaped North learned to read entered the ministry and vowed to spend his life liberating others from slavery The Loguens Syracuse house at East Genesee and Pine Streets was a critical station on the Underground Railroad that sheltered perhaps as many as 1 500 fugitives in ...

Article

Jeri Chase Ferris

slave, nurse, landowner, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Hancock County, Georgia, of unknown parents. Though her slave name was Bridget, she was almost always called Biddy, and not until she achieved her freedom in Los Angeles, California, in 1865 did she take the surname Mason. It is not definitively known why she chose “Mason,” although Amasa Mason Lyman was the company captain on Biddy Mason's journey from Mississippi to Salt Lake City, and later to San Bernardino. Biddy was an infant when she was given or sold to the John Smithson family of Mississippi, to whom she belonged until she was eighteen. Smithson then gave her, along with two other slaves, as a wedding present to his cousin Rebecca when she married Robert M. Smith Biddy Mason s new duties included nursing care of the frail Rebecca Smith and the making ...

Article

Liliana Obregón

Generally considered the world's most prestigious awards, Nobel Prizes come from a trust fund established by Swedish chemist, inventor, and philanthropist Alfred Bernhard Nobel. As designated in Nobel's will, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards prizes for physics and chemistry; the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinksa Institute awards prizes for physiological or medical works; the Swedish Academy awards prizes for literature; and the Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the winner of the peace prize. In 1968 a new prize for economics was established and endowed by the national bank of Sweden.

The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on December 10, 1901, but it was not until 1950 that a black person was a recipient. An American from Detroit, Ralph J. Bunche was the first person of African descent to receive the distinguished prize for his work as a United Nations mediator; his efforts led to the 1949 ...