Dr. Daniel Hale Williams III
Daniel Hale Williams III was born on January 18th, 1856, to his Socttish-Irish and African American father Daniel Hale Williams Jr., and African American mother Sarah Price Williams. He is best known for performing the first successful and documented pericardium surgery in the United States. He also created the first non-segregated hospital called Chicago’s Provident Hospital.
Prior to beginning his career as a successful general surgeon, he followed in his father’s footsteps of owning and running a barber shop with his sister. It wasn’t long before his attention turned completely to education and he began to pursue medicine.
For two years Williams was an apprentice to Dr. Henry W. Palmer where he was taught and educated to become a physician and surgeon. In 1880, Williams attended the Chicago Medical School, now known as Northwestern University Medical School, to complete his education and training. In 1883, after graduating college, Williams went on to open up his own practice in Chicago becoming the first African-American physician to work for the city’s street railway system. Due to the discrimination inflicted on African Americans that denied them the opportunity to be able to work for hospitals or be admitted as patients, he took action and founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses with the first interracial staff.
In 1893, Williams made history when he performed a successful pericardium surgery on a person who had a stab wound in the chest. Without the proper supplies to perform such a complex surgery, Williams beat the odds and became one of the first people to perform open heart surgery. His success led to him being named surgeon-in-chief at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington D.C. by President Cleveland.
Williams is also known for co-founding the National Medical Association, and for being a charter member and the only African American member in the American College of Surgeons . Honorary degrees were given to him by Howard University and Wilberforce University. In addition to these honors, a state historical marker is placed in Pennsylvania to recognize his accomplishments.
Skylar Wooten, Project RACE Teens Vice President
Photo credit: https://www.biography.com/scientist/daniel-hale-williams