Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931)

Williams was born in Hollidaysburg, Pa. as the son of a free man. After relocating to Janesville, Wis., Williams began working as an apprentice to Dr. Henry W. Palmer and entered Chicago Medical College, which is currently known as Northwestern University Medical School. Following his graduation in 1883, he opened his own office. Because black doctors were not allowed to work in Chicago, he began the Provent Hospital and training school for Chicago nurses. This is considered the first African-American owned-and-operated hospital in the U.S. In 1893, Williams saved a stabbing victim’s life by repairing the lining of the heart, the first surgery of its kind at the time. The same year, he was appointed surgeon-in-chief at Freedmen’s Hospital in D.C. in 1898. Williams became a clinical surgery teacher at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., as well as an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He co-founded the National Medical Association for African-Americans Doctors and became a charter member and the only African-American member of the American College of Surgeons.