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180px-Daniel_Hale_Williams.jpg (10805 bytes)


Surgeon (1856-1931)

A pioneer in open-heart surgery was born in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Williams attended formal schooling in Hare's Classical Academy in 1877 and received his M.D. from Chicago Medical College, and Northwestern Medical School in 1883.  He helped to found the Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses.  In 1893, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the first open-heart surgery by removing a knife from the heart of a stabbing victim.  He sutured a wound to the pericardium (the fluid sac surrounding the myocardium), from which the patient recovered and lived for several years afterward.  He established a training school for nurses.  

He was the first Surgeon in Chief to divide the Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C. into separate departments to treat specific conditions: Medical, Surgical, Gynecological, Obstetrical, Dermatological, Genito-Urinary, and Throat and Chest.  In 1891, he founded the Provident Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago; the oldest freestanding Black owned hospital in the United States.  Dr. Williams was the only African-American in a group of 100 charter members of the American college of Surgeons in 1913.  He founded and became the first vice-president of the National Medical Association.  Dr. Williams was awarded by a bill in the United States Congress in 1970 that issued a commemorative stamp in his honor.  

Revised: July 18, 2013.