Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931), an African-American doctor, performed the first successful heart surgery — at Provident Hospital, the first black hospital in the U.S., which he founded.
On July 10, 1893, Williams operated on James Cornish, who was brought to the hospital with a knife wound to the heart. Williams opened the man’s chest and repaired a tear in the heart lining, saving him.
With the help of community leaders, Williams founded Provident Hospital and Nursing Training School in Chicago in 1891. It was initially at 29th and Dearborn and moved to 426 E. 51st Pl. in the 1930s. A new facility was built next door in 1982. It is now part of Cook County Health and Hospitals System.
Williams, a Pennsylvania native, was trained at Chicago Medical School, which was affiliated with Northwestern University, earning his degree in 1883. He was the first black member of the American College of Surgeons.
He suffered a stroke in 1926, and then moved to Idlewild, Mich., where he lived in retirement until his death in 1931.