Frederick Douglass Stubbs, MD.

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Frederick Douglass Stubbs, MD

Also Known As: "Doug"
Birthdate: (40)
Birthplace: Wilmington, DE, United States
Death: February 09, 1947 (40)
PA, United States (Massive Coronary Infarction)
Immediate Family:

Son of Jeanette Bacon A Stubbs and Florence Blanche Williams
Ex-husband of Marion Turner Stubbs Thomas
Father of Patricia Stubbs Fleming and Fredrika S Hill
Brother of Jeanette Bowns Stubbs and Elizabeth (Liddie) Stubbs Davis

Occupation: Thoracic surgeon, Surgeon/Chest Specialist
Managed by: H Gordon Fleming
Last Updated:

About Frederick Douglass Stubbs, MD.

Even before Stubbs graduated from Harvard Medical School, he was being quietly scouted as a candidate for a trailblazing position in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland City Hospital had never had a black intern; however, several groups, spearheaded by three black Cleveland city councilmen, were determined to change the status quo. After being granted permission to appoint a black intern, an all-out search was made for a highly accomplished inaugural candidate with impeccable character. On 1 July 1931, Dr. Frederick Stubbs became the first black intern appointed to the Cleveland City Hospital (Norfolk Journal and Guide, 11 July 1931)—and one of the first black interns appointed to any major teaching hospital in America (Tollett, p. 538). Teamed with the white intern James E. Morgan, Stubbs experienced the travails and triumphs of his first full year as a physician. Despite incidents of racial insensitivity and intolerance, Stubbs prevailed and excelled. Having an interest in surgery, Stubbs trained for an additional year in general and thoracic surgery under Dr. Samuel O. Freedlander at Cleveland City Hospital. In 1933 Stubbs completed a one-year surgical residency at Philadelphia's Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital. Founded in 1895 by Dr. Nathan Mossell, Douglass was one of the country's oldest black-run hospitals. Stubbs served his surgical residency under Dr. John P.Turner. Stubbs married Dr. Turner's daughter, Marion V. Turner, June 1934, and they had two daughters, Patricia and Fredrika. Stubbs entered private practice and in 1936 was appointed by the mayor of Philadelphia as assistant surgeon at Philadelphia General Hospital—the first black physician appointed to the hospital's staff. Stubbs later completed a thoracic (chest) surgery residency at Sea View Hospital in Staten Island, New York, from 1937 to 1938. Sea View was nationally known for its research and treatment of tuberculosis (Cobb, p. 25), and Stubbs is believed to be the first formally trained black thoracic surgeon in America. He returned to Philadelphia for leadership positions in surgery at both Douglass Memorial Hospital and Mercy, the city's other black-run hospital. He later played a critical role along with his father-in-law in the two hospitals' merger.

Stubbs's advanced thoracic surgery training brought extraordinary advances in the surgical treatment of tuberculosis to Philadelphia, garnering him national acclaim. His pioneering work at Douglass Memorial Hospital was featured in a 1940 Time magazine article. Stubbs authored articles in several respected medical journals. He became a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery (1943), an associate and later a fellow of the International College of Surgeons, and a fellow of the American College of Surgery (1946). He headed Philadelphia's City Health Center and was a dedicated preceptor for surgical residents. Stubbs also served as president of both the Philadelphia Academy of Medicine and Allied Sciences and the Pennsylvania State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association. His other memberships included the National Medical Association and the American Medical Association.

Dr. Stubbs died of a heart attack aboard a train while traveling with his wife from New York City to Long Island. Many mourned the brilliant surgeon. At the time of his death he had been appointed acting chief of Philadelphia General Hospital's Division of Tuberculosis and had been tapped to lead and develop the Jefferson Medical School Hospital's tuberculosis division, with the privilege of naming his own staff (Cobb, p. 26). In lamenting the incalculable loss, the famed surgeon and hematologist Dr. Charles Drew stated in part, “He was one of this country's great young surgeons. I know of no one of any race who had accomplished more in so short a period of time. He wrote his own record by the life he lived” (Drew, p. 265).

Further Reading

Cobb, W. Montague. “Frederick Douglass Stubbs, 1906–1947: An Appreciation.” Journal of the National Medical Association 40, no. 1 (1948): 24–26. Drew, Charles R. “Annual Report of the Surgical Section of the National Medical Association.” Journal of the National Medical Association 39, no. 6 (1947): 263–265. Tollett, Charles A., Sr. “Frederick Douglass Stubbs, M.D., F.A.C.S.” In A Century of Black Surgeons: The U.S.A. Experience, vol. 2. Ed. Claude H. Organ Jr. and Margaret M. Koshiba (1987). Obituaries: Norfolk Journal and Guide, 15 Feb. 1947. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 10 Feb. 1947. Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 Feb. 1947.

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Frederick Douglass Stubbs, MD.'s Timeline

March 16, 1906
Wilmington, DE, United States
- 1923
Age 15
Ashburnham, Massachusetts, United States
- 1927
Age 16
Hanover, N H, United States
- 1931
Age 20
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Age 39
February 9, 1947
Age 40
PA, United States