Dr. William Fletcher Penn

Dr. William Fletcher Penn was the first Black person to graduate from Yale Medical School (1897).

Degree(s): N/A, Doctor of Medicine

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Undergraduate Institution: Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) (HBCU)

Graduate Institution: Leonard Medical School for Blacks, Yale Medical School

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Photo Credit: NY Public Library

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Dr. William Fletcher Penn was the first Black person to graduate from Yale Medical School (1897). He was invited to study at Yale Medical School after a Yale professor saw him perform as part of a college quartet with Leonard Medical School for Blacks. After completing an internship at the Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, DC, Dr. Penn moved to Atlanta, where he not only established Mercy Hospital, but also became the superintendent and chief of the surgical service. He later served as the chief of surgery at the Veterans Hospital in Tuskegee, AL until his death.

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Fun Fact: Dr. Penn also became Yale University’s first Black yearbook editor.

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