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Wed, 11.01.1848

Caroline Still Anderson, Doctor and Abolitionist born.

Caroline Still Anderson

*Caroline Still Anderson was born on this date in 1848. She was a Black doctor and abolitionist.

Early life and education

Caroline Still was born in Philadelphia and was the oldest daughter of four to Letitia and William Still. Both of her parents were leaders in the American abolitionist movement. Her father led the Philadelphia branch of the Underground Railroad, which began shortly after Still's birth. As a child, Still attended Mrs. Gordon's Private School, The Friends' Raspberry Alley School, and the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania). Though these schools were expensive, her father's lucrative career in the coal industry allowed him to afford a good education for his daughter.

Still's father valued the importance of education for his daughters and encouraged Still to pursue her education seriously. Still completed her primary and secondary education at the age of 15. In 1864, she enrolled at Oberlin College as the only black student in her class. She earned her degree in 1868 at 19 as the youngest student in her graduating class. After earning her Bachelor of Arts, she was elected the first Black president of the Ladies' Literary Society of Oberlin. She married her first husband, Edward A. Wiley, a fellow Oberlin alumnus and former slave, at their home in December 1869. The wedding was attended by many prominent members of America's antislavery movement and included a performance by Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield.

In 1875, two years after her husband's sudden death, Still attended Howard University College of Medicine. However, she earned her Doctor of Medicine degree and graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. She was one of only two Black students in her class of 17. While in school, she worked as a drawing and speech teacher to pay her way. After graduation, she returned to Philadelphia and worked as an elocution, drawing, and music teacher until 1875. In 1878, she began her medical career with an internship at Boston's New England Hospital for Women and Children.

The hospital board rejected her application due to her race, and she was appointed only after visiting the city and meeting with the board in person. Reportedly awed by her talent, they repudiated their earlier decision, appointing Still to the internship. After her internship ended in 1879, Still returned to Philadelphia, where she opened a dispensary in her new husband Matthew Anderson's church and opened a private medical practice.

Now going by Anderson, in 1889, she resumed her career as an educator, teaching hygiene, physiology, and public speaking while continuing her medical practice. Also, in 1889, the couple founded the Berean Manual Training and Industrial School; Anderson was the assistant principal, and she also held teaching roles. She also practiced medicine at Quaker institutions in Philadelphia. In her later years, Anderson worked with several organizations in Philadelphia for temperance and racial equality. She was a board member of the Home for Aged and Infirm Colored People of Philadelphia, a member of the Philadelphia branch of the Women's Medical Society, and the treasurer of the Women's Medical College Alumnae Association.

Her career came to an end when she suffered a paralytic stroke in 1914. Caroline Still Anderson, one of the first Black women to become a physician in the United States, died on June 1 or 2, 1919, in Philadelphia of complications from her strokes. She was 70 years old.

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