Yale Medical School Celebrates Its First Black Women Graduates

Yale Medical School Celebrates Its First Black Women Graduates

Yale had only three African-American women among its medical school graduates for 63 years.

Published May 31, 2011

(Photo: www.medicine.yale.edu/index.aspx)

Ivy League bulwark Yale Medical School this week is celebrating a trio of doctors who were the first Black women to receive medical degrees from Yale. 


There were no other African-American women among the graduates during the medical school’s first 137 years. The first white woman to complete Yale medical did so in 1920.


The first Black women were Beatrix Ann (McCleary) Hamburg, M.D., class of 1948, who was also the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar College. She has had a distinguished career in child psychiatry and is currently the DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Her daughter, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, was appointed by President Obama as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009.


Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette, M.D., class of 1950 and Doris Louise Wethers, M.D., class of 1952 took similar paths in medicine and assisted each other for decades. They both studied pediatrics, did notable work in the area of sickle cell anemia and were known for their fundraising and scholarly work on how to combat the disease.


The first Black man, Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, received his M.D. in 1857, and during the next 40 years a dozen African-American men followed him.


See a slide show of Black graduates in public health and medicine at Yale.

Written by Frank McCoy


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