In honor of African American History Month, the National Library of Medicine in February presented two special exhibitions paying tribute to the work of famed Harlem photographers Morgan and Marvin Smith, and trailblazing physician Herman A. Barnett, III.
Barnett, one of World War II’s famous Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilots, became the first African American to graduate from a Texas medical school, earning his MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1953. He built a career as a surgeon and anesthesiologist in Houston, served as the first African American member of the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners and became the first African American to be elected president of the Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees.
Photographers Morgan and Marvin Smith, who were also twins, portrayed life in Harlem from the 1930s through the 1950s.The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith Exhibit showcased 150 of their photographs, including a selection from Faces of Harlem, depicting daily life, and from Sports Figures, which captured black athletes who began toppling the racial barriers to professional sports, especially major league baseball.
The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith Exhibit was part of the traveling exhibition program of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research library of the New York Public Library. This is the eighth year that the NLM has featured work from the Schomburg collection.
The Barnett Memorial Exhibit came to NLM from the University of Texas Medical Branch.