Entries - Entry Category: Medicine

Orto, Zaphney

Zaphney Orto, a prominent physician who helped discover the link between malaria and mosquitoes, was a U.S. army major and surgeon during the Spanish-American War, and the second president of Simmons First National Bank, founded in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Born to Leonidas Orto and Martha G. McElwee Orto in Somerville, Tennessee, in 1842, Zaphney Orto lived on a farm near Somerville until he was eighteen, then worked in a store for two years. He studied medicine with Dr. S. W. Thompson of Evansville, Indiana, and graduated from the Miami Medical College of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1872. Shortly afterward, he moved to Arkansas, where he settled in Clover Bend (Lawrence County). He practiced medicine there for two years before moving …

Pellagra

Pellagra is a form of malnutrition caused by a severe deficiency of niacin (also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3) in the diet. The disease affected thousands of Arkansans and other Southerners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Symptoms of pellagra can include lack of energy, outbreaks of red splotches on the skin, diarrhea, and—in extreme cases—depression, dementia, and even death. Pellagra is not contagious, and the condition can be reversed. The lethargic appearance of pellagra victims was also a symptom of two other diseases widely found in the South at the time, hookworm and malaria. These three contributed to the false stereotype of Southerners at this time as lazy. Pellagra was first recognized as a disease in 1762 …

Planned Parenthood

Through education, advocacy, and direct services, Planned Parenthood seeks to ensure healthy sexuality, family health, and access to high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare. The topic of reproductive education and healthcare has long been a source for debate both nationally and in Arkansas. At the height of the Depression, Little Rock (Pulaski County) activist Hilda Cornish was convinced that the ability to limit family size could be crucial to a family’s financial survival. In February 1931, Cornish established the Little Rock Birth Control Clinic, the first such service in Arkansas. Services were provided at a minimal fee for any married woman whose family made less than $75 per month. Establishment of this clinic was met with public resistance; one woman wrote, …

Polio

The poliovirus terrorized the United States for many years, and Arkansas was no exception. Infection with the virus either went unnoticed or caused poliomyelitis, commonly called polio, which resulted in paralysis that sometimes ended in death but more often left its victims permanently handicapped. As the disease often affected children, it was also called infantile paralysis. While the large urban centers of the country dealt with polio epidemics early in the twentieth century, Arkansas had only a few intermittent cases. The Arkansas Gazette, however, reported frequently on the disease, keeping its readers informed of efforts to combat, cure, and curtail its devastating effects in other areas. After the first significant numbers were reported in the state, Arkansans reacted to the …

Public Health

Public health is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field with the goal of improving and maintaining the health and well-being of communities through education, the promotion of healthy behaviors and lifestyles, the creation of health-related government policy, and research on disease and injury prevention. In Arkansas, the field of public health has been active since territorial days, when infectious diseases such as malaria plagued the area. In the early days, efforts to improve sanitation, prevent the spread of disease, and treat the health problems of the public in Arkansas centered on diseases—particularly malaria, hookworm, polio, yellow fever, typhoid, and tuberculosis. In modern times, public health campaigns in Arkansas have moved toward a focus on chronic health problems such as obesity and diabetes. …

Pulaski County Medical Society

The Pulaski County Medical Society (PCMS), founded in 1866, is Arkansas’s largest and one of the state’s oldest county medical organizations for regular physicians (meaning those within the medical mainstream.) (Although sources identify the PCMS as the “first medical organization chartered by the state of Arkansas,” an earlier organization, known as the Crawford County Medical Society, was established in the early 1840s.) The PCMS supports physicians and promotes public health. In nineteenth-century America, regular physicians formed professional organizations to advocate for themselves. In 1866, a group of Little Rock (Pulaski County) physicians, including Philo Oliver Hooper and Roscoe G. Jennings, formed the Little Rock and Pulaski County Medical Society. The PCMS, whose members were required to be American Medical Association …

Rabies

 Rabies, a viral disease that attacks the body’s central nervous system, causes convulsions, hallucinations, and an inability to swallow liquid—hence its earlier name, hydrophobia, or “fear of water.” Until Frenchman Louis Pasteur’s 1885 creation of a vaccine that successfully treated rabies in humans, the bite from a rabid animal almost always resulted in a death excruciating to endure and horrifying to witness. Pasteur’s discovery was publicized in Arkansas, but it would be almost thirty years before the state had a treatment center using his methods, though it lasted only briefly. Two months after Pasteur’s breakthrough, four New Jersey children who had been bitten by a rabid dog traveled to France and were cured using the vaccine. News of these boys’ …

Reed, Eddie

Eddie Reed was a cancer researcher, medical oncologist, and leader in public policy addressing disparities in healthcare in the United States. Reed is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Eddie Reed was born on December 17, 1953, the son of Floyd and Gennora Reed, who raised a family of eighteen children on a farm near Hughes (St. Francis County). Reed and his siblings received their early education in Hughes’s public schools, and all received a college education and had distinguished careers as lawyers, doctors, teachers, and public servants. Reed attended Philander Smith College, a historically black institution in Little Rock (Pulaski County), where he achieved academic distinction. In the summer following his sophomore year, he was chosen …

Reid, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Reid was a physician and a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Reid not only fought during the war—and at one point escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp—he also served at times in a medical role. After the war, he practiced medicine in Arkansas. He moved to Illinois around 1880, where he lived the rest of his life. Thomas Jefferson Reid was born on January 6, 1838, in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was one of twelve children born to Thomas Jefferson Reid and Frances Lightfoot Edwards “Fannie” Reid. Thomas Sr. was a descendant of Major John Reid of Virginia, who had served in the American Revolution. Reid’s mother was well educated and from a slaveholding …

Robinson, John Marshall

John Marshall Robinson was a prominent physician, civic leader, and co-founder and president of the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association (ANDA). As a physician, Robinson performed pioneering medical surgery and was involved with a number of medical institutions and organizations in Little Rock (Pulaski County). As a politician, Robinson was the main voice in the state demanding equal black participation in the Arkansas Democratic Party between 1928 and 1952. Born on July 31, 1879, in Pickens, Mississippi, John Robinson was one of eight children of Isabell Marshall and Amos G. Robinson. Robinson attended Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1904. While in Nashville, Robinson met and married India Cox. Robinson’s only …

Roy, Frederick Hampton, Sr.

Frederick Hampton Roy Sr. is an ophthalmologist who lives and practices in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He has written many books on ophthalmology, some of which have been translated into other languages. Roy has also authored books on topics such as history, architecture, and religion. In addition to being a prominent member of the Arkansas medical community, he is a prolific writer, a philanthropist, an advocate for historic preservation, and a politician. F. Hampton Roy was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 27, 1937. He graduated from Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in June 1955. After graduation, he entered the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and received a BS in 1958. In 1961, he received his MD …

Saline Memorial Hospital

Originally known as the Saline County Memorial Hospital, present-day Saline Memorial Hospital was constructed in 1954 in Benton (Saline County). The hospital was created in response to the rising population of the Benton area following World War II, the Korean War, and Saline County’s postwar industrial boom. The hospital had forty-two beds at its creation and cost about $325,000 to build. In 2017, Saline Memorial Hospital encompassed approximately 400,000 square feet, with 177 beds and more than 180 active and consulting physicians. According to census data, the population of Benton was 3,502 in 1940 and had nearly doubled by 1950 to 6,277. In February 1955, Saline County judge Charles O. Smithers named the first governing board for the hospital. Dr. …

Sanitation

The term “sanitation” is used today to describe the elimination or control of dangerous bacteria, especially in drinking water and food supplies and through personal hygiene. Prior to the development of the germ theory and the subsequent discoveries in bacteriology and microbiology, the term covered all elements of health and well-being. Sanitation, in the sense of the elimination of dangerous bacteria, is common to animals, which instinctively try to keep their feces and urine at a distance from their habitations. When humans abandoned nomadic patterns and resided in settled communities, more complicated arrangements had to be worked out. Examples practiced in the absence of scientific proof included the use of latrines, attempts to protect the purity of water supplies, and …

Schoppach, Annie

aka: Annie Adelia Anette Ryerse
Annie Schoppach was the first female graduate of the Medical Department of the University of Arkansas (now the College of Medicine of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). She practiced medicine in Little Rock (Pulaski County), entering a profession that was almost entirely male dominated. Annie Adelia Anette Ryerse was born in Port Ryerse, Ontario, Canada, on May 3, 1859, the daughter of James and Sarah Ryerse. The Ryerse family was the most prominent family in the area, her great-grandfather having been the lieutenant governor of the Western District of Upper Canada. She experienced a great deal of loss early in her life. Her mother died when she was a small child. Later, her twin sister died. Her paternal …

Shannon, Robert Fudge

A pioneer in mental healthcare for Arkansas, Robert Fudge Shannon was the first chief resident in psychiatry at the University of Arkansas Medical School, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He also established the state’s first psychiatric outpatient program for adolescents, helped launch Arkansas’s first private psychiatric inpatient treatment unit, founded the first private psychiatric clinic in the state, and served as commissioner of mental health. Born on April 15, 1933, in Melbourne (Izard County), the second of three children of newspaperman Karr Shannon and Ollie Ellen (Fudge) Shannon, Bob Shannon attended school in Melbourne until 1944, when the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). He graduated from Little Rock High School (now Little Rock Central …

Sherman, Jerome Kalman

Jerome (Jerry) Kalman Sherman, considered the “Father of Sperm Banking,” was a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) from 1958 until 1992, when he became professor emeritus, remaining active until 1994. During his decades as a research scientist and teacher of anatomy, he significantly shaped the field of cryobiology—the study of biological materials at low temperatures—and the emergence of human sperm banks as part of reproductive medicine. Through his involvement in multiple charitable organizations in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area, he has also improved the lives of many Arkansans. Jerry Sherman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 14, 1925, the only child of Murray and Beatrice Sherman. An eager student, he graduated from …

Smallpox

Smallpox is an infectious disease characterized by the formation of a rash and blisters across the face and extremities. With an overall mortality rate of approximately thirty-five percent, it was one of the most feared diseases in the world before coordinated vaccination efforts resulted in the disease being eradicated in 1979. In Arkansas, smallpox greatly affected Native Americans and played a role in the creation of later public health initiatives. Smallpox was first introduced into North America by European explorers, who brought to the New World any number of diseases to which Native Americans had not previously been exposed. Some historians estimate that perhaps ninety percent of the indigenous population of the Americas may have been killed by diseases brought …

Smith, Willis S.

Dr. Willis S. Smith was a regionally significant teacher, sheriff, farmer, doctor, and writer in early southwestern Arkansas. Willis Smith was born on August 10, 1810, in Todd County, Kentucky, a frontier community. He was the fifth of twelve children of Millington Smith and Barbara Barton Smith. He was the grandson and namesake of Revolutionary War soldier Willis S. Smith, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Smith had little opportunity for an education, and he could barely read or write even at twenty years of age. He left his home in Johnson County, Illinois, for Rock Springs Theological Seminary in Rock Springs, Illinois, where he received sufficient education to become a teacher at the school himself. One …

Society for the History of Medicine and Health Professions

The Society for the History of Medicine and the Health Professions was established as a support group for the Historical Research Center (HRC) of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Library in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It supports research into the history of the health sciences in Arkansas. The society was founded in September 1981 by an executive committee composed of Dr. Robert Watson (the first neurosurgeon in Arkansas and a member of the UAMS College of Medicine faculty) as chair, Marie Smith (wife of Dr. John McCollough Smith), Dr. Horace Marvin (UAMS College of Medicine associate dean for academic affairs), Paul Harris (executive director of the Pulaski County Medical Society), and Edwina Walls (head of the HRC). …

Southall, James Henry

James Henry Southall was a founding member of the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University, the precursor to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Southall was born on November 5, 1841, in Smithville, Virginia, the son and grandson of distinguished Virginia physicians. After the completion of his education and the interruptions of life caused by the Civil War, Southall moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) at a time when the local medical community was beginning to consider forming a medical school in the state. As with many physicians of his era, Southall had begun his medical education by reading medicine under the tutelage of a professional, Dr. Robert Tunstall of Norfolk, Virginia. He attended medical school at the …

Sparks Regional Medical Center

Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), founded in 1887, was Arkansas’s first hospital. As of 2009, it serves a population of more than 350,000 in the surrounding eleven-county area and offers a full range of medical specialties and advanced diagnostic facilities, together with the newest technology, expert medical care, and clinical research. The hospital got its start following an accident at the railroad yard in Fort Smith, in which a stranger named Gerhardt was injured. He was taken to a boarding house and left. The rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Reverend George Degen, found him in a worsened condition with no one to care for him. He subsequently collected $500 from merchants along Garrison Avenue, …

St. Anthony’s Hospital

With a view of the Arkansas River to the south and mountains to the southwest, St. Anthony’s Hospital in Morrilton (Conway County) is an imposing three-story Art Deco–inspired structure made of brick and stone. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 1986. The Benedictine sisters at St. Scholastica Monastery established St. Anthony’s Hospital as a fourteen-bed facility on December 4, 1925, initially using a private home belonging to the Burrows family of Morrilton. During the following twelve years, they moved twice, first to a Harding College dormitory (when that school, now Harding University, was located in Morrilton), then to the Jones Hospital building on N. West Street. (Jones Hospital had opened in 1920.) The …

St. Bernards Healthcare

St. Bernards Healthcare, based in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was founded by the Olivetan Benedictine sisters at Holy Angels Convent and is the largest employer in northeast Arkansas, with more than 2,200 employees. Its mission remains: “To provide Christ-like care to the community through education, treatment and health services.” Like many contemporary healthcare institutions, St. Bernards was begun in response to a crisis—a malaria fever epidemic that raged throughout northeast Arkansas in 1899. Civic leaders realized that the events of the 1890s had highlighted the need for a hospital, and as the twentieth century dawned, the idea was gaining momentum. A first challenge, and one that would be ongoing throughout the century, was to raise money necessary for a hospital. The …

St. Joseph’s Home

aka: St. Joseph Center
St. Joseph’s Home sits on a summit overlooking North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and offers picturesque views of the Arkansas River and Pinnacle Mountain. Since 1910, the home has been a source of refuge for many Arkansans, children and elderly, as well as U.S. Army officers of World War I. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976. Now called St. Joseph Center, it is home to a non-profit organization that offers urban farming opportunities. The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, under the directive of Bishop John Baptist Morris, built St. Joseph’s Home. On July 1, 1907, Morris purchased a 720-acre farm, which at the time, was about four miles north of what is now …

St. Vincent Hot Springs

aka: St. Joseph's Mercy Health Center
aka: Mercy Hot Springs
aka: CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs
Founded as St. Joseph’s Infirmary, St. Vincent Hot Springs is the second-oldest hospital in Arkansas, serving the medical needs of Hot Springs (Garland County) and its surrounding communities since 1888. St. Vincent Hot Springs is a 282-bed, acute-care hospital located on Werner Street in Hot Springs. In the 1880s, the Reverend Patrick McGowan, who settled in Hot Springs after retiring, asked Hot Springs physician Dr. J. M. Keller to buy a suitable building and its surrounding property for a hospital. In 1888, Mother Aloysius Burke and Sister Mary Clare, two Sisters of Mercy, came to Hot Springs from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to prepare the thirty-bed hospital, St. Joseph’s Infirmary, for its grand opening. The hospital opened to Hot Spring residents …

St. Vincent Infirmary

aka: CHI St. Vincent
The Charity Hospital, founded in 1888, evolved into today’s St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Charity Hospital was Arkansas’s first Catholic hospital, and St. Vincent remains the state’s oldest continuously operating hospital. What became known as CHI St. Vincent Health System, an affiliate of Catholic Health Initiatives, continues to emphasize the healing mission of the Catholic Church through its focus on the values of reverence, integrity, compassion, and excellence. The 1882 will of Alexander Hager, a wealthy Little Rock resident, promised to provide funding for hospital service in Little Rock if God spared the city from the yellow fever outbreak that was tearing through the South. When the outbreak passed over Little Rock, Hager’s will …

Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World

aka: Royal Circle of Friends
The Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World, also known as the Royal Circle of Friends (RCF), was an African-American fraternal organization founded in 1909 in Helena (Phillips County). The organization was founded to supply insurance to the African-American population but was also dedicated to the moral, physical, social, and economic welfare of its members. Men and women were equal members. From the beginning, the RCF grew rapidly across the Southern states and soon spread across the nation. In 1944, the membership was quoted by a Chicago, Illinois, newspaper as being in excess of 100,000. Dr. Richard A. Williams was the founding Supreme President and held that position until his death in 1944. Williams was born in Forrest City …

Thomas C. McRae Memorial Sanatorium

aka: Alexander Human Development Center
The Thomas C. McRae Memorial Sanatorium in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties) was established in 1931, in the midst of the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, to treat African-American victims of tuberculosis (often called “consumption” at the time). It was the first facility of its kind in Arkansas. It was opened twenty-two years after the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Booneville (Logan County), which treated only white patients. In 1968, following the integration of the state’s sanatoriums, the Alexander site became the Alexander Human Development Center. In 2011, the facility was closed. The bill that created the McRae Sanatorium was introduced in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1923. It had strong support from the Arkansas Tuberculosis Association, particularly from …

Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000

After the establishment of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between several major U.S. tobacco companies and four state governments (Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Mississippi), the remaining forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories not party to the original legal action were allowed to join into benefits conferred by the agreement. The tobacco companies were mandated to pay damages approaching the sum of $10 billion over an indefinite time period to the states joining the agreement, as well as acknowledge publicly that tobacco companies targeted youth in marketing and sales of products. In addition, the companies were subjected to sponsorship, marketing, and sales restrictions on their product. The State of Arkansas, agreeing not to file further litigation …

Towbin, Eugene Jonas

Eugene Jonas Towbin moved to Arkansas in 1955 to work at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. He was a pioneer in the field of geriatric medicine, and his influence brought the first Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) in the country to Arkansas. He was instrumental in obtaining funding for the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was one of the founders of the geriatrics program at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He also supported cultural events and organizations in the Little Rock area. Eugene Towbin was born in New York City on September 18, 1918, to Russian Jewish immigrants Morris and Elena Towbin. He attended public …

Trinity Hospital

Opened in 1924, Trinity Hospital of Little Rock (Pulaski County) operated as a fee-for-service institution until 1931. That year, the physicians of Trinity implemented one of the early health maintenance organizations (HMOs)—a form of insurance in which member physicians provide medical care to voluntary subscribers for a fixed fee—in the United States. The former Trinity Hospital building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 1998. Trinity’s five founding physicians—Mahlon Dickerson Ogden Sr., Orange King Judd, Augustine Mathias Zell, James Isaac Scarborough, and Robert Booth Moore—began practicing medicine together before establishing the hospital. By 1916, Ogden, Judd, and Zell, who were also faculty members at the Arkansas Medical School—now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences …

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (also known as consumption) is a contagious, potentially fatal bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs. It is caused by the tubercle bacillus (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), which was discovered by Robert Koch in 1882. By 1900, the disease was the second-leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by pneumonia. More than eighty percent of the U.S. population had been infected with the disease, although most people showed no symptoms. By the time a person showed symptoms, the disease was usually well advanced and had been spread to many others. The mortality rate for those with active infections was around eighty percent. In Arkansas, tuberculosis once affected one in sixty people and accounted for one out of every …

Typhoid

Typhoid is among the earliest diseases reported in Arkansas and was a significant public health problem up through the early twentieth century. Though it became less common in the modern era, typhoid had a significant impact upon state health in times and places where poor sanitation was the norm. Typhoid, like cholera, is transmitted through the ingestion of food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected individual; the spread of the disease is therefore greatly linked with a lack of proper sanitation. Victims experience high fevers, sweating, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and diarrhea. In most cases, the disease is not fatal, though fevers can last well over a month. Some individuals may become asymptomatic …

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is Arkansas’s premier research hospital. UAMS provides the state with a solid foundation of higher learning and financial support. It has a long history of serving the public by providing the indigent with quality healthcare and is one of the largest employers in Arkansas, providing almost 9,000 jobs, many of them professional. To some extent, the history of UAMS is the history of medicine in Arkansas. The Arkansas State Medical Association, formed in 1870, pressed the legislature to allow the legal dissection of cadavers—a major milestone in medical research and education. After the legislature’s approval in 1873, the state’s first dissection, performed by Drs. Lenow and Vickery, …

Vaccination

Vaccination artificially increases immunity to disease and contributes to the development of herd immunity, which is achieved when a sufficiently large percentage of immunized individuals  reduces the likelihood of disease transmission. Beginning in the nineteenth century, vaccination became an essential part of American public health policy. In Arkansas, starting with the introduction of school smallpox vaccination requirements in the late nineteenth century, vaccination became a vital feature of modern public health policy. The smallpox vaccine, discovered by British physician Edward Jenner in 1796, was the world’s first vaccine and remained the only human vaccine available until 1885. Following the introduction of the smallpox vaccine into the United States in 1800, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate smallpox vaccinations, requiring …

Watkins, Claibourne

Claibourne Watkins was one of three native Arkansan founders of the Medical Department of the Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Watkins was born on March 3, 1844, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the second son of George Claibourne Watkins and Mary Crease Watkins. His father was state attorney general and chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He had two brothers: Colonel Anderson Watkins, who was killed at Atlanta during the Civil War, and Captain Walton Watkins. Watkins was educated in a number of institutions, both private and public. The Civil War broke out just prior to his completing his undergraduate degree at St. Timothy’s Hall in Cantonsville, Maryland. A Southerner by birth and …

Welch, William Blackwell

In the late nineteenth century, William Blackwell Welch, a physician, was a leader in the movement to modernize medicine in Arkansas. A cofounder and first president of the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS), he later led the effort to establish a city hospital in Fayetteville (Washington County). W. B. Welch was born on December 9, 1828, in Scottsville, Kentucky, to Christopher A. Welch, who was a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth Lyles Welch. In 1829, his family, which eventually included two brothers and three sisters, moved to Somerville, Alabama. He attended schools in Huntsville, Alabama, and studied medicine under his older brother. After graduating from Tennessee’s University of Nashville medical department (later merged with the Vanderbilt University Medical School) in 1849, …

Williams, Robert Lee, II

Robert Lee Williams II is a leading figure in American psychology known for his work in the education of African-American children and in studying the cultural biases present in standard testing measures, especially IQ tests. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2011. Robert Lee Williams was born on February 20, 1930, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, Robert L. Williams, worked as a millwright and died in 1935; his mother cleaned houses. He had one sister. He graduated from Dunbar High School at age sixteen and attended Dunbar Junior College for a year before dropping out, discouraged by his low score on an IQ test. He married Ava L. Kemp in 1948. They have …

Williams, Sterling B.

Dr. Sterling Williams was a groundbreaking leader in the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) who served in several important roles in national organizations dedicated to medicine and medical education. In addition, he was a gifted vocalist who performed with numerous choral groups. Sterling B. Williams was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 3, 1941. He grew up in Little Rock and graduated from Horace Mann High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by a master’s degree in physiology from Northern Illinois University in 1966 and an MD from what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in 1973. He also completed work toward his …

Worms [Medical Condition], Traditional Remedies

aka: Intestinal Parasites
Well into the twentieth century, it was believed that all children had parasitic worms and that parents needed to treat this condition with patent or homemade medicines. These concoctions rid children of such intestinal parasites as roundworms (Ascariasis), threadworms (Trichuris), and tapeworms (Taenia solium), some of which also went by the colloquial names of pinworms and seatworms. Worm infestations, it was believed, could cause death. This is borne out by the census’s four mortality schedules (1850–1880). In these, “worms” and “worm fever” were listed as the causes of some children’s deaths, the majority occurring during the warm months of July through October. Some of these children may have died from the debilitating effects of worms or by being overdosed with …

Yellow Fever

In 1878 and 1879, Southern cities such as Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana, were devastated by epidemics of yellow fever. Citizens of Arkansas were also affected by the disease, leading to controversial quarantine measures that prohibited travel in parts of the state and also restricted the transportation of materials such as recently harvested cotton. The creation of the Arkansas State Board of Health resulted from successful efforts to protect Arkansans from the 1879 yellow fever epidemic. Yellow Fever (colloquially called “Yellow Jack”) is a potentially fatal virus that mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) transmit to their human hosts through their bite. It attacks the body’s organs, mainly the liver, which causes jaundice, a yellowing of the patient’s skin and whites of …