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Daniel Hale Williams

Daniel Hale Williams

On January 18, 1856 in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, Daniel Hale Williams was born into a family of eight children to Sarah Price Williams and Daniel Hale Williams II. After the death of his father when he was nine years old his family moved to Baltimore to live with relatives. Williams was apprenticed to become a shoemaker in Baltimore for three years, and by the age of seventeen he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin to study as a barber. Williams began his study of medicine as an apprentice under Dr. Henry Palmer who was a prominent surgeon. Dr. Palmer’s three apprentices were accepted into a three year program at the Chicago Medical School, where Williams graduated with a M.D. degree in 1883.

When Dr. Williams began his practice in Chicago, there were only three other black physicians in the city. He was able to secure appointments at the South Side Dispensary, City Railway Company, and the Protestant Orphan Asylum, where he practiced medicine and surgery. He also maintained an anatomy instructor job at Northwestern University Medical School for four years. In 1889, Dr. Williams was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Health where he worked on medical standards and hospital rules. A few years later, Dr. Williams opened Provident Hospital and training school for nurses, which served as the nation’s first hospital with a racially integrated nursing and intern program. Williams continued to make history when he successfully performed open-heart surgery on a patient who had a severe stab wound to his chest. Soon after he opened Provident Hospital, Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed chief surgeon of the Freedmen’s Hospital, which provided care for African Americans. Williams was able to revitalize the neglected hospital and in 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association.

Williams left Freedmen’s Hospital in 1898 and moved to Chicago with his wife Alice Johnson. He returned back to Provident Hospital and later worked at Cook County Hospital.  Williams spent his later years making annual trips to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was a voluntary visiting clinical professor at Meharry Medical College. In 1929 Williams experienced a debilitating stroke in 1926 and died five years later on August 4, 1931 in Idlewild, Michigan. In September 2005, Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine was opened and named in honor of Dr. Williams.


Works Consulted:

“Daniel Hale Williams III.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 29 July 2014.

“History: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.” – The Provident Foundation. The Provident Foundation, 2000.    Web. 21 July 2014.

— Dawn Xiong

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