>Home >Black History Month >DANIEL HALE WILLIAMS (1856-1931)

DANIEL HALE WILLIAMS (1856-1931)

DANIEL HALE WILLIAMS (1856-1931)

Daniel Hale Williams III was a pioneering surgeon best known for performing in 1893 one of the world’s first successful open heart surgeries.  Williams was born on January 18, 1856, in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania to Sarah Price Williams and Daniel Hale Williams II.  Following the death of his father, Williams lived with family friends in Baltimore, Maryland, and with family in Illinois, from 1866 to 1878 where he was a shoemaker’s apprentice and barber until he decided to pursue his education.  In 1878, Williams’s interest in medicine began when he worked in the office of Henry Palmer, a Wisconsin surgeon.  In 1880 he enrolled in the Chicago Medical College, receiving a Doctor of Medicine degree three years later.

Immediately after graduation Williams opened his own practice in Chicago and taught anatomy at Chicago Medical College.  He became a trailblazer, setting high standards in medical procedures and sanitary conditions, including adopting recently-discovered sterilization procedures in regard to germ transmission and prevention.  He also avoided the then-common practice of black doctors being barred from staff privileges in white hospitals by starting his own hospital.  In 1891 Williams co-founded Provident Hospital and Training School Association in a three-story building on Chicago’s South Side.  At a time when only 909 black physicians served 7.5 million African Americans, Provident was the first black-controlled hospital in the nation. Yet Provident was also the first medical facility to have an interracial staff and the first training facility for African American nurses in the US.  During Williams’s tenure as physician-owner (1891-1912), Provident hospital grew, largely due to its extremely high success rate in patient recovery: 87 percent. To read more click here.