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   Portrait of Henry McKee Minton, MD

Henry McKee Minton, MD

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.