Entry Category: Medicine

Elders, Joycelyn

aka: Minnie Lee Jones
Joycelyn Elders was director of the Arkansas Department of Health and the U.S. surgeon general in the administration of President Bill Clinton. Her controversial opinions led to her resignation after just over a year as surgeon general. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones on August 13, 1933, in Schaal (Howard County). She took the name Joycelyn while attending college. The eldest of Curtis and Haller Jones’s eight children, she spent much of her childhood working in cotton fields. From an early age, Jones showed considerable academic ability, and in 1949, she earned a scholarship to Philander Smith College …

Flowers, Cleon

Cleon Aurelius Flowers Sr., an African-American physician from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was reported to be the first physician in the country to deliver viable conjoined twins successfully during a home birth. During his fifty-nine-year career as a physician, he earned a reputation as a compassionate and generous healthcare provider in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. Cleon Aurelius Flowers was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on July 26, 1913. His father, Alonza William (A. W.) Flowers, was a laborer in sawmills who later became an insurance agent for Universal Life Insurance Company, and his mother, Beulah Sampson Flowers, was a teacher, community leader, and political activist. His parents also owned and operated the A. W. Flowers and Sons grocery store …

Flu Epidemic of 1918

aka: Influenza Epidemic of 1918
A deadly influenza outbreak began in 1918 and spread around the world, killing more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. In Arkansas, the flu killed about 7,000 people, several times more than the state lost during World War I. This flu’s history remains significant today as world health officials seek to prevent an outbreak of a similar influenza epidemic mutated from swine or “bird flu” from poultry. In the fourteenth century, Italian doctors noted a mysterious illness that often turned into an epidemic. They called it the influentia in medieval Latin, believing it was caused by an adverse influence of the stars or alignment of the planets. By the eighteenth century, it was called influenza di …

Garland, Mamie Odessa Hale

Mamie Odessa Hale Garland served as midwife consultant for the Arkansas Department of Health from 1945 to 1950 and is credited with training the state’s elderly and illiterate “granny midwives” to ensure that they knew the proper techniques to manage the medical aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery and could complete birth certificates. Her contributions led to Arkansas’s improved maternal/infant mortality rates and regulation of midwives. Mamie Odessa Hale was born November 19, 1910, in Keeny’s Creek, West Virginia. She was the third child born to Emanuel Hale and Minnie Maude Creasy Hale. In 1941, Hale attended the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery for Colored Nurses in Alabama, a program sponsored by the Children’s Bureau; a bachelor’s degree was required to …

Government Free Bathhouse

The Government Free Bathhouse in Hot Springs (Garland County) provided free baths to the indigent, sick, and injured who sought access to the local thermal springs, which were thought to have medicinal properties. Spurred into existence by an act of Congress in 1878, the free bathhouse operated until 1957. In 1832, the federal government made the hot springs of Arkansas a federal reservation Businesses arose to offer food, lodging, and entertainment, but access to the water was free. After the Civil War, businesses tried to take ownership of the hot water. This enraged visitors, who felt that everyone had a right to access the water for no charge. On December 16, 1878, Congress passed compromise legislation that reaffirmed federal ownership …

Hall-Trujillo, Kathryn

Kathryn Hall-Trujillo is a public health expert and advocate who focuses on healthcare for African-American women. Best known for founding Birthing Project USA, “Mama Katt,” as she has been affectionately called, was named a 2010 hero by the CNN television network for her work with at-risk mothers and babies. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Kathryn Hall-Trujillo was born on July 19, 1948, in Moscow (Jefferson County), a small town near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Her mother’s name was Corrine. She has said that her grandmother was her mentor. She said of her childhood, “Even though I came from a family that was poor, I came from a very good family; we loved one another …

Hallock, Harry M.

Harry M. Hallock served as the sole medical director of what was known at the time as Hot Springs Reservation. In 1832, the U.S. Congress set aside the reservation, which became Hot Springs National Park in 1921, to preserve the springs for public benefit. Hallock introduced controversial regulations that improved the quality of medical care in Hot Springs (Garland County), while also earning him the scorn of some local elites. Chronic illness and political opposition drove him to suicide. Henry Hallock was born on October 14, 1867, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in 1890. He married Jannette Halford; they had a son named Halford and a daughter …

Harrison, William Floyd Nathaniel

William Floyd Nathaniel Harrison was an obstetrician/gynecologist, abortion provider, congressional candidate, and author. During his career, he became locally and nationally known as an outspoken pro-choice physician. Born on September 8, 1935, in Vilonia (Faulkner County), William Harrison was the fourth of Benjamin G. Harrison and Mattie E. Powell Harrison’s five children. His parents were teachers. His family attended both Methodist and Baptist churches. Educated in the public schools, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway (Faulkner County) in the early 1950s but did not complete a degree. He served in the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s. Entering the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1959, he studied pre-medicine and graduated in 1963. …

Health and Medicine

Arkansas long had a reputation for being sickly because much of the state supported large mosquito populations, carrying malaria, yellow fever, and other diseases. Modern medicine, a largely nineteenth-century creation, arrived late, and throughout the twentieth century, diseases eradicated elsewhere continued to flourish. Only after World War II did sharp improvements in health occur, but the Delta lagged far behind. Problems in health and medical programs were compounded in part because many Arkansans deliberately engaged in forms of risky behavior such as tobacco use and unhealthy diets. Prehistoric Arkansas The first settlers more than 10,000 years ago brought to the New World only a few major illnesses. One was tuberculosis, evidence of which is visible in bones from burial sites. …

Herndon, Elisabeth Chapline

Sarah Elisabeth Chapline Herndon was the only volunteer Red Cross nurse from Arkansas to serve in the Spanish-American War. Elisabeth Chapline was born on April 4, 1871, near Sweet Home (Pulaski County) to William Heros Chapline and Mary Murray Chapline. Her father was a landowner and planter. She had one brother and two sisters. Chapline attended the Arkansas Female College in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and nursing school at Chicago Baptist Hospital in Illinois. When war broke out in 1898, Chapline was too young for enlistment but was admitted as a contract nurse. She served in Fernandina, Florida, and at Camp Cuba Libre in Panama City, Florida. She was one of 1,700 volunteer nurses to serve in the war. Chapline …

Hildreth, James Earl King

James Earl King Hildreth, a leading HIV/AIDS researcher, is dean of University of California–Davis College of Biological Sciences. Previously, he was employed by Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was director for the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research; program director of the Research Centers in Minority Institutions; director of the Meharry Center for Translational Research; associate director at the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for AIDS Research; and professor of internal medicine, microbiology, and immunology. At the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research, he worked on a cream that kills the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). James Earl Hildreth was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on December 27, 1956, to Lucy and R. J. Hildreth. He is the youngest of seven …

Hookworm Eradication

Hookworm disease was a significant public health issue in Arkansas until the movement to eradicate hookworms in the early twentieth century. With official estimates claiming that up to twenty percent of the entire population of the state suffered from hookworm infestation, this parasite was sufficiently widespread to affect the economy as well as the health of Arkansas. Its virtual eradication was the result of a public health and education campaign on the part of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission between 1910 and 1914. The hookworm is an intestinal parasite that grows and reproduces in the intestines of its hosts. When infected people deposit feces containing hookworm eggs in warm, moist, shaded soil, the eggs hatch and develop into larvae. Within five …

Hooper, Philo Oliver

Philo Oliver Hooper has been called the father of Arkansas medicine. He was one of the founders of the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), a founder and the first president of the Arkansas State Medical Association, a founding board member and director of the Arkansas Lunatic Asylum, and vice president of the American Medical Association. P. O. Hooper was born on October 11, 1833, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Alanson Hooper and Magdaline Perry Hooper. After obtaining what education was available in the city at the time, he pursued his education at Nashville University in Nashville, Tennessee. Returning home to Little Rock, he found employment as the chief clerk …

Hospital Unit T

When the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, the need for trained medical personnel was great, and medical units of doctors, nurses, and enlisted men were recruited heavily. The American Red Cross asked for units to be formed from hospitals and medical schools across the United States to go to France and England. Arkansas’s contribution was Hospital Unit T, Medical Department, National Army (called Hospital Unit T for short). Dr. William A. Snodgrass, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) physician with the University of Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) was authorized to form a unit for military service. His authorization was announced in the Arkansas Gazette on July 1, 1917. This …

Hospitals (Civil War)

A wide range of Civil War hospitals in Arkansas included field hospitals established in the immediate aftermath of battle, commandeered houses and churches, and somewhat permanent post hospitals in occupied areas. Union bases tended to have more purpose-built hospital facilities, while Confederate doctors made use of any available buildings, such as colleges, hotels, churches, and private homes. The need for hospital facilities became obvious soon after Arkansas seceded from the Union and the new Confederate recruits became ill from the myriad diseases that afflicted their camps. Hospitals were established wherever large groups of troops gathered, often treating soldiers from specific regiments or from the same states. In early 1862, for instance, Confederate forces in Washington County established the Mount Comfort …

Hot Springs Medical Journal

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Hot Springs (Garland County) was proud home to the Hot Springs Medical Journal, first published in January 1892. Although medical journals were published in nearby locations including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, the founders of the publication felt that the natural hot springs for which the city was named provided a great resource for many patients. They stated in the first volume: “The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas is…the greatest sanitarium on earth, and in a few years is inevitably destined to become the most universally frequented health resort in the world.” At that time, Hot Springs was already quite a tourist area. The resident population was …

Houser, Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte Houser was a prominent African-American physician, owner of the Black Diamond Drug Store, and investor in Helena (Phillips County) from 1901 to 1920. He came to Helena from Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Arkansas Delta’s population and opportunities grew, but returned to the place of his birth following the Elaine Massacre. N. B. Houser was born near Gastonia, in Gaston County, North Carolina, on February 14, 1869. He was the son of William H. Houser, a well-to-do brick mason and contractor, and Fannie Houser, a housekeeper and mother. The youngest of six siblings, Houser attended public schools in Charlotte and worked as a farm hand on his father’s farm until the age of fourteen, when he began to …

Human Development Centers

From 1888 to 1959—prior to the creation of human development centers (HDCs)—the Arkansas State Hospital provided long-term care to individuals with intellectual disabilities as well as to individuals with severe mental illness. Arkansas lagged behind other states in development of facilities specializing in the care of the intellectually disabled. In the mid-1950s, plans were set in motion to develop a facility that would specialize in the treatment and education of children with intellectual disabilities. Within one year of the opening of the Arkansas Children’s Colony (later renamed the Conway Human Development Center) in 1959, the facility received accolades for its physical construction as well as for its progressive curriculum for residents. Soon after, several other Southern states were following in …

Human Dissection Monument

The first human dissection performed in Arkansas is commemorated by an obelisk located at the edge of MacArthur Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1927, the Arkansas Medical Society unveiled the marker, whose inscription states that the dissection was held on that spot in November 1874. To clarify: the monument honors the state’s first such legal event, and the unveiling took place on May 13, despite the marker being dated May 12. Following appeals by doctors, in April 1873 the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 45 authorizing “dissection in certain cases for the advancement of science.” This paved the way for the establishment of a medical school, as the new law gave both doctors and medical students the right …

Ish, George William Stanley

George William Stanley Ish was a prominent black physician in Little Rock (Pulaski County) who cared for citizens of the capital city and inspired members of both races. He graduated from Harvard Medical School and was instrumental in founding both United Friends Hospital and the J. E. Bush Memorial Hospital, primary centers for the medical care of black patients. He was also largely responsible for the inception of the McRae Memorial Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties), the state’s separate black sanatorium. Physicians of both races held him in high regard, and he was a staff member at predominantly white hospitals in Little Rock. G. W. S. Ish was born in Little Rock on October 28, 1883, in …

Jennings, Roscoe Greene

Roscoe Greene Jennings was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Roscoe Jennings was born in Leeds, Maine, on June 11, 1833, the fourth son and fifth child of Perez Smith Jennings and Johanna (Lane) Jennings. His great grandfather, Samuel Jennings of Salem, Massachusetts, had held an important office under King George III of Great Britain but, after the Revolutionary War, had lost his property and moved to Maine to farm. Young Roscoe grew up working on a farm there in the summer and attended school during the winter. He later traveled and taught school to support himself and his continuing education. Jennings apprenticed in medicine …

Johnston, David Augustine Elihue

David Augustine Elihue Johnston, also known as D. A. E. Johnston or Elihue Johnston, was an inventor, a successful dentist and businessman, and a member of the National Negro Business Men’s League. He and his brothers were killed under mysterious circumstances during the time of the Elaine Massacre of 1919. D. A. E. Johnston was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), although sources differ as to the year. Johnston’s official date of birth is listed as May 1, 1878, on his application for a draft exemption with the Phillips County Local Exemption Board on September 12, 1918. On the 1900 U.S. Census, he was listed as being born in May 1881, but on his January 1910 marriage license, his age …

Johnston, Lewis Harrison (L. H.)

Lewis Harrison Johnston was a physician, surgeon, and wealthy businessman. He was a member of the Negro Business League and the State Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association of Oklahoma. He and his three brothers were killed by a posse in 1919 during the Elaine Massacre. Lewis Harrison Johnston, known as L. H., was born on July 4, probably in 1880, in either Arkansas or Ruston, Louisiana, to Lewis Johnston Jr. and Mercy Ann Taborn Johnston. In the 1880 census, Johnston was living in Vaugine Township in Jefferson County with his parents and siblings. His place of birth was listed as Arkansas, and his age was listed as one. In 1900, Johnston was listed as living in Ward 3 in Pine …