Henry McKee Minton, MD
(Class of 1906)
Born on Christmas day of 1870 in Columbia, SC, Dr. Minton took
his degree from Jefferson in 1906 along with two other African Americans
that year. An outstanding graduate (1891) of the Phillips Exeter
Academy in New Hampshire, he also excelled as an athlete, debater,
and editor. He thought at first to pursue a legal career, but left
the University of Pennsylvania's Law School in order to take a pharmacy
degree at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, which he earned in 1895.
In 1897 he opened the first pharmacy operated by an African American
in Pennsylvania. In 1902, he decided to go back to school and chose
Jefferson Medical College for a degree in medicine.
Dr. Minton was the first pharmacist for Douglass Hospital, a hospital
for Philadelphia's underserved black community, which opened in
1895. He was a proponent of expanding such resources and was one
of the founders of Mercy Hospital (1907). After Dr. A. B. Jackson's
departure in 1920 for Howard University, Dr. Minton was appointed
superintendent at Mercy Hospital. During his tenure of 24 years,
over 200 interns were trained at Mercy, and in 1923 the first social
service department was organized. The requirements for admission
to the School of Nursing were increased and in 1930 a new, modern
nurses home was built at the cost of $100,000.
From 1915 until his death in 1946, Dr. Minton was
on the staff of the University of Pennsylvania's Henry Phipps Institute
and was a recognized authority on tuberculosis. Author of numerous
publications and affiliated with many professional organizations,
perhaps his most long-lasting contribution to the advancement of
African Americans is his creation of Sigma Pi Phi (the Boulé),
the first black Greek letter fraternity. At a time before mass communication
and desktop publishing, associations and fraternities were the best
instruments for professional contact and development. In 1904 he
envisioned this now-exclusive and influential national organization
as one which would, in his words,
"bind men of like qualities, tastes and
attainments into close sacred union,
that they might know the best of one another."
--quoted by Charles H. Wesley in History of Sigma Pi Phi;
First of the Negro-American Greek-Letter Fraternities, Fiftieth
Anniversary Edition, 1904-1954, Published for the Society by
The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc., 1954.