Yale School of Medicine Honors Its First Three Black Women Graduates

Recently, the Yale University School of Medicine honored the first three African-American women graduates of the school.

Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, a black man, graduated from Yale Medical School in 1857. Twelve other black men earned medical degrees at Yale over the next 40 years. But afterwards, Jim Crow ruled the day. There were no black graduates of the Yale medical school between 1903 and 1947.

Beatrice Ann Hamburg was the first black woman to graduate from the medical school in 1948. This was 91 years after the first black man earned a medical degree at Yale.

Dr. Hamburg had already been a pioneer. She was the first self-identified African-American woman to graduate from Vassar College. Dr. Hamburg has taught at the Stanford, Harvard, and Mount Sinai medical schools and is now the Dewitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar of Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Following in Dr. Hamburg's footsteps at Yale were Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette who graduated in 1950 and Doris Louise Wethers who earned her medical degree in 1952. Both women became active in research on sickle cell disease.