Louis T. Wright and colleagues at patient bedside, Harlem Hospital, New York, N.Y.

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Louis T. Wright and colleagues at patient bedside, Harlem Hospital, New York, N.Y.


Louis Tompkins Wright, MD (1891-1952) was born on July 23, 1891, in La Grange, Georgia, was son of physician Dr. Ceah Ketcham Wright. Dr. Wright died when Louis was four years old, and his mother, Lula Tompkins Wright, later remarried another physician, Dr. William Fletcher Penn, the first black medical graduate of Yale University.

Wright graduated from Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1911 as class valedictorian, and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1915. During his fourth year, he stayed out of classes for three weeks to demonstrate against a showing of The Birth of a Nation. Wright graduated cum laude, and ranked fourth in his class. Despite his academic achievement, he was asked to march at the end of the procession rather than his rightful place at the head.

He applied for internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Boston City Hospital, and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and was turned down from each hospital. He accepted a position at the segregated Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.

At the end of his internship, in 1916, Wright look the licensing exam in Maryland, Georgia, and New York, achieving high scores in each state. He returned to Atlanta to practice with his step-father, and was then commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corps.

In 1919, he settled in New York City where he opened a general practice of surgery in Harlem, and was appointed Assistant Physician in the Health Department Venereal Disease Clinic. He also accepted a position as Clinical Assistant Visiting Surgeon at Harlem Hospital. Throughout his career, Wright fought to integrate and improve Harlem Hospital and was eventually made Surgical Director of Harlem Hospital.

In 1934, Wright took over chairmanship of the NAACP’s Board of Directors, which he occupied until his death in 1952.

Dr. Wright's papers are available at the Center for the History of Medicine.

From left to right: Dr. Lyndon M. Hill, Dr. Louis T. Wright, Dr. Myra Logan, Dr. Aaron Prigot, unidentified African American woman patient, and unidentified hospital employee.


Covello, Joe (for Black Star).


Louis Tompkins Wright papers, 1879, 1898, 1909-1997. H MS c56. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.


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Covello, Joe (for Black Star)., “Louis T. Wright and colleagues at patient bedside, Harlem Hospital, New York, N.Y.,” OnView, accessed June 17, 2024, https://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/index.php/items/show/18166.