Daniel Hale Williams

Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1858[1] – August 4, 1931) was an American surgeon. He was the first African-American cardiologist, and performed one of the first successful cardiac surgeries in the United States.[2] He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.

At the time that he graduated from medical school, black doctors were not allowed to work in Chicago hospitals. As a result, in 1891, Williams started the Provident Hospital (Chicago) and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois. This was established mostly for African-American citizens.[5]

Williams was one of the first to have performed cardiac surgery. Earlier surgeries on the pericardium were performed by Francisco Romero in 1801, Dominique Jean Larrey prior to 1850, and by Henry Dalton in 1891.[6] In 1893 Williams repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish, the second on record.[6] He performed this surgery, without the benefit of penicillin or blood transfusion, at Provident Hospital, Chicago, on 10 July 1893[7] About fifty-five days later, James Cornish had successfully recovered from the surgery.[8] He lived with his father who was a “free negro” barber, his mother, his one brother and five sisters and was the fifth child of the family. His family eventually moved to Annapolis, Maryland. Shortly after when Daniel was nine, his father died.[9]

Williams graduated from Chicago Medical College in 1883.

Williams was married in 1898 to Alice Johnson, daughter of sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel and a maid of mixed ancestry.[10] Williams died of a stroke in Idlewild, Michigan on August 4, 1931. His wife, Alice Johnson, died in 1924.

Williams was honored, amongst others, for his achievements in the Stevie Wonder song “Black Man”, from the album Songs in the Key of Life.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Daniel Hale Williams on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[11]

He received honorary degrees from Howard and Willberforce Universities, was named a charter member of the American College of surgeons and was a member of the Chicago Surgical Society.

A Pennsylvania State Historical Marker was placed at US 22 eastbound (Blair St., 300 block), Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania commemorating his accomplishments and marking his boyhood home.

Daniel Hale Williams