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Black Inventors and Innovators - Daniel Williams

Updated on February 17, 2011


Daniel Williams was born January 18, 1858 in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and died August 4, 1931 in Idlewild, Michigan. Williams was one of seven children, their father was a barber that died when he was very young.  Williams’ mother realized that she could not take care of all her children so some of the kids went to live with relatives.  After moving around Williams went to live with one of his sisters and opened a barber shop.

A few years later Williams began working as an apprentice to a local physician who he was fascinated by.  Williams decided to go to NorthwesternUniversityMedicalSchool and after graduating opened up his own medical office in Chicago, Illinois.

At the time many of Williams’ patients were treated in their own homes, sometime Williams would even conduct surgeries on kitchen tables with the utmost professionalism, making sure that everything was sanitized.

Williams established the ProvidentHospital and Training School Association a small facility with a few beds.  In the first year of operation the hospital had an 87% success rate something that was truly amazing during this time period but was due to the fact that Williams insisted on using the highest standards in everything he did.

Two years after the hospital opened a young man who was injured in a bar fight was transported to the ProvidentHospital.  The patient was stabbed in the chest with a knife and had lost a great deal of blood.  

Williams was left with no other choice than to open the man’s chest and operate. This was something that was unheard of because of the risk of infection.  Williams opened the patient’s chest, saw the damage, sutured the hole around the man’s heart, applied antiseptic and closed his chest.  Fifty days later the patient had completely recovered and walked out of the hospital. The patient ended up living a very long life.

Williams was Chief Surgeon at Freedmen’s Hospital, ProvidentHospital, MercyHospital and St Luke’s Hospital. Williams acquired many awards, honors and honorary degrees. Williams was the first African-American cardiologist and the first person to perform the first successful heart surgery.

Williams set high standards as a surgeon for both whites and blacks. Through adversity and against all odds Williams was able to do amazing things.


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    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Hello and Bob! I had never heard of him before either so it was great to learn about him!

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      7 years ago from New Brunswick

      Thanks for this, I did not know of him, prior to your hub,

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      A great tribute to a wonderful man who had everything against him but succeeded because he was determined.

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Tina Tango!

    • TinaTango profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub! Very informative.

      I am a history fanatic =P

      Thumbs up!

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thanks DeBorrah! This has been an amazing journey of learning.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      7 years ago

      Triplet Mom, Wonderful hub! Daniel Williams was an exceptional man! Thank you for sharing another informative history lesson on one of the many Black Inventors & Innovators! Peace & Blessings!


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