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Fri, 05.22.1874

Rivers Frederick gave his life to medicine

Dr. Rivers Frederick

On this date in 1874, Rivers Frederick, an African American physician, was born in New Roads, Pionte Coupee’ Parish, LA.

Frederick graduated from the University of New Orleans and earned his M.D. from the University of Illinois in 1897. He spent the next two years as a surgical clinician in Chicago, returning to New Orleans to begin a private practice. Responding to the lack of real opportunities for Black doctors in the United States, Frederick moved to Honduras in 1901.

He served as the chief surgeon of the government hospital at El Rio Tan until 1904. It has been said that his departure was a result of his involvement with a failed revolutionary attempt to overthrow the Honduran government.  Back in New Orleans, Frederick became the chief surgeon at the Flint Medical College until 1907, moving to a similar position at that city’s Sarah Goodridge Hospital. He also worked as surgeon for Southern Pacific Railroad from 1913 to 1932, and when Flint and Goodridge merged, he taught postgraduate courses at the new Flint-Goodridge Hospital.

Frederick was a fellow of the International College of Surgeons, a member of the American Cancer Society, and the Tuberculosis Association.  He served the mayor’s Advisory Committee of Race Relations in New Orleans. As an active member of the NAACP, he worked against health-care discrimination faced by African Americans.  In 1951, Frederick received the Distinguished Service Medal from the National Medical Association and he was made a member of the Society Tosca-Umbra di Italia at the annual assembly of the International College of Surgeons in Florence, Italy, the same year.

His published articles include "Acute Intestinal Obstruction," (1935); "Primitive Surgeon in Modern Medicine," (1946); and "The Treatment of Toxic Goiter," (1951," all in the Journal of the National Medical Association. Rivers Frederick died in September 1954.

The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
ISBN 0-02-864984-2

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