Williams, Daniel Hale

  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
You may use the stars on the left to rate and leave feedback for the current article. No registration is required. Waiting for 5 votes 4.6 of 5 stars (8 votes) — Thanks for your vote

Please fill out the following optional information before submitting your rating:

Williams was born to a mixed-race family in Pennsylvania. His father, a white man, was married to a free Black woman, and was an active abolitionist who died when he was 11.

Although some members of the family lived as whites, and he could also have done so, Daniel refused to "pass" and actively identified himself as Black. Soon after his father died his mother sent her children to live with different relatives, except Daniel, who was apprenticed to a shoemaker in Baltimore, while she went to live in Illinois. After a while Daniel left his apprenticeship and followed her, but although the reunion was happy, his mother soon moved to Maryland with his sisters to rejoin the other children, and Daniel elected to stay in Illinois.

For the next several years he worked and lived with various cousins, but when he was 16 he struck out on his own and moved to Wisconsin, where he became a barber, living very happily with his employer's family, and also attended high school. His employer-cum foster father later financed his medical training in Chicago, and he graduated in 1883.

Unable to practice in Chicago's segregated hospitals, he opened his own, the first integrated hospital in the USA, in 1891. He also established two nursing schools for Black nurses. At Provident Hospital Williams made history in 1893 by performing the world's first open-heart surgery, on a stabbing victim (who lived another 50 years). He was also the first Black man on the Illinois State Board of Health and later chief surgeon at Washington's Freedmen's Hospital. He was the only Black doctor invited to be a founder member of the American College of Surgeons (1913) and one of the founders of the National Medical Association (the medical society founded in 1895 for Black doctors).


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992)
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97
Dictionary of American Biography
Kaye, Judith. The Life of Daniel Hale Williams. (New York: Twenty First Century Books, 1993)
Thompson-Peters, Flossie E. Daniel Hale Williams, Surgeon. (Los Angeles: Atlas Press, 1988) (Dynamic Black Americans)
Harris, William C., II. "Daniel Hale Williams: First Heart Surgery." Available at: http://www.wpmco.com/text_daniel_hale_williams.htm
Chicago Historical Society. "Douglas/Grand Boulevard: The Past and the Promise." [Includes portrait]. Available at: http://www.chicagohistory.org/DGBPhotoEssay/DGB06.html
"Daniel Hale Williams, 1856-1931." Available at: http://sun3.lib.uci.edu/~afrexh/Williams.html


19th Century
20th Century
Education, Teaching, Libraries
Medicine and Allied Professions
Ethnic or Religious Identity Confused or Concealed, Racism
School-age Years, Adolescence
Unmarried Mother, Single Parent (Mother or Father) Unable to Cope
Cousins, Parents' Cousins
Priest, Religious, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Patron, Apprentice Master or Owner
Adoptive/Foster Family Included Birth Child(ren)
Child in and out of Care
Disrupted or Failed Placements
Birth Sibling(s) Separated
Visitor Comments (0) - Be the first to comment
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.

To see local Adoption resources, please select a location (U.S. only):

Need a Home Study?
Adoption Photolisting
Akiva (PA / 13 / M)
Akiva is an active young man who loves to be on-the-go and out and about! He has an athletic side and would really like to participate in afterschool activities as well as join a... [more]
Parent Profiles
Our hearts and home are open to you,we welcome you and your child into our family. We promise to provide your child with a happy home, that is safe, secure and filled with lots... [more]
Directory of Adoption Professionals
Find a professional
for all of your adoption needs including:

Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.

Settings Help Feedback
Template Settings
Width: 1024     1280
Choose a Location:
Choose a Theme: