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Freedmen's Hospital: Exploring Howard University's Roots

February 29, 2008

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This undated photograph, Nursing at Freedmen’s Hospital, shows an African American nurse cadet adjusting traction for a patient. Freedmen’s Hospital was established in 1862 to address the needs of thousands of African Americans who poured into Washington, DC during the Civil War, seeking their freedom.

Alexander T. Augusta, MD (1825-90), a surgeon and a major in the US Army, was the hospital’s first director and chose its name. He was one of eight black doctors then commissioned in the Army. Freedmen’s was the predecessor of Howard University Hospital and officially took that name in 1975.