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Williams, Wilberforce A.(1865–1940) - Physician, surgeon, Chronology

chicago health tuberculosis serves

Albert Wilberforce Williams was a prominent Chicago physician who practiced on Chicago’s south side for forty-six years. He specialized in internal medicine, the treatment of tuberculosis, and heart and lung disease. He was the first African American physician to write a newspaper column on health and the first physician to focus attention on social diseases. He worked at Provident Hospital with Daniel Hale Williams, the renowned physician and surgeon who in 1893 performed the first successful operation on the human heart.

Williams served as health editor of the Chicago Defender from 1911 to 1929. The only other newspaper in the country to have a health editor at that time was the Chicago Tribune . Both papers were in the forefront of educating readers on health and hygiene issues, and both dared to refer specifically to sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid in their medical advice columns. Some of Williams’s peers objected to his frank writings. When his topics began appearing, he received criticism and resistance; some readers did not like seeing what were considered private subjects discussed openly in a newspaper. Because of his persistence in writing and lecturing on these subjects, he lost his membership in one of the medical societies to which he belonged.



Born in Monroe, Louisiana on January 31


Graduates from Lincoln Institute, Jefferson City, Missouri


Graduates from Northwestern University Medical School of Chicago


Begins medical practice at Provident Hospital, Chicago


Marries Mary Elizabeth Tibbs on June 25


Serves as attending physician at Southside Municipal Tuberculosis Dispensary


Serves as health editor for the Chicago Defender


Writes article, “Tuberculosis and the Negro” for Mississippi Conference on Tuberculosis


Serves as supervisor of the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium Survey


Serves in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France during World War I, lecturing soldiers on health issues


Becomes managing director, European Travel Educational Tours 1940 Dies in Chicago on February 26

Williams, William Taylor Burwell(1869–1941) - Educator, Chronology, Further Successes [next] [back] Williams, Vanessa L. (1963–)

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