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In 1893, Sarah Jones Became First African-American Woman To Pass Virginia Medical Examining Board Exam

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In 1893, she became the first African-American woman to pass the Virginia Medical Examining Board examination. She received top marks in surgery, practice, and hygiene. Dr. Sarah Boyd Jones, known as Sallie Boyd in her early years, began her medical career in 1890 when she enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study medicine.

According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, when she received her medical degree in 1893, she dedicated a one-hour free daily clinic for women and children while ensuring that the marginalized Richmond community received services.

Her medical knowledge came in handy at a time when the African-American community had a higher mortality rate than white residents. When an African-American mother goes into labor, she has a high chance of having a stillbirth. Jones dedicated her knowledge and skills to reversing this trend. She was one of only three female physicians and one of only a few African-American physicians in practice at the time.

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In February 1866, she was born in Albemarle County to Ellen D. Boyd and George W. Boyd. Her father was a well-known contractor in the Richmond area. One of the reasons they moved to Henrico County in the 1860s was because of this. He was responsible for many of Richmond’s iconic structures, including the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church and the Grand Fountain United Order of True Reformers’ large hall.

Her primary education was received at the Richmond Coloured Normal School. Jones became a teacher at the Baker School after completing her second cycle education, where she taught alongside prominent educationist Rosa L. Dixon Bowser and poet Daniel Webster Davis. She taught at the elementary level for five years before marrying another teacher, Miles B. Jones, on July 4, 1888.

When Jones earned her medical degree, she launched a series of initiatives aimed at increasing access to the medical profession for African Americans. In 1893, she began working as a medical examiner for the female members of the Southern Aid and Insurance Company, the only institution that recognized female doctors at the time. In 1897, she was also a member of the Woman’s Corner Stone Beneficial Association’s medical examiners.

Due to the barriers that African Americans face in accessing professional medical care in the Richmond community, she decided to lecture at the Women’s Central League of Richmond’s nursing training school.

When African-American physicians were barred from joining white medical societies, she and her husband founded the Medical and Chirurgical Society of Richmond on February 19, 1902. In February 1903, she and her husband purchased a house and converted it into a hospital to improve access to medical facilities that provided quality medical care to African Americans.

Jones became ill after caring for a patient in April 1905 and died of active cerebral congestion on May 11, 1905, at her Richmond home. She was laid to rest in Richmond’s Evergreen Cemetery after a funeral attended by hundreds of people.

Sarah G. Jones Memorial Hospital, Medical College, and Nursing Training School was named in her honor in 1922.

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Written by How Africa News

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