Black Americans in Medicine 1860–1980

Shaw University, NC, Leonard Medical School graduating class of 1889
Shaw University, NC, Leonard Medical School graduating class of 1889

Black Americans in Medicine (BAM) is a project that combines a comprehensive archive of black American medical primary and contextual content accessible through multiple methods of display including spatial, temporal and other representations. This archival project currently features over 23,000 biographical records of African American physicians from 1860-1980 and numerous associated primary documents. A one-of-a-kind database, it is comprised of content that has never before been digitized or collected in a central location.

This archive includes materials accessible through a number of intersectional methods in order to allow enhanced user interaction while articulating this oft-forgotten chapter in American history. Our goal is to make the content fully discoverable by both scholars as well as more casual audiences. By incorporating both a focused study into the history of specific physicians and a broader analysis of the trends within the African American medical community, this project will help shed light on the often untold narrative in the vast history of the black experience.

BAM will offer:

  • Easily Accessible Primary Documents – including newspaper articles, pamphlets, journals, speeches, resumes, correspondence, photographs memos and much more.
  • Over 23,000 Biographical Records – including personal, geographic, academic, professional and other information about doctors.
  • Targeted Search – a faceted browser will allow for both a specific search given known criteria or to explore freely documents in context.
  • Integrated Timeline – users will have the ability to dynamically search out events and occurrences, and connections between them.
  • Geographic Mapping – users will be able to discover content via locational data allowing for another layer of connections.

Future Development

  • Digitization of complete archive.
  • Creation of prototype version of site.
  • User testing to better understand how experts and novices interact with the content.
  • Integration of Repertoire faceted browser and Chronos timeline.
  • Continued aggregation of new content.


Project Lead: Kenneth Manning, PI (CMS/W & STS) and Kurt Fendt, Co-PI (CMS/Active Archives Initiative)

Active Archives Initiative: Kurt Fendt

HyperStudio: Evan Higgins, Josh Cowls, Andy Stuhl

Research collaborators (MIT): Philip N Alexander (CMS/W), Richard Duffy (CMS/W)


MIT internal funding