Miles V. Lynk, First African American Physician in Jackson, Tennessee



Miles Vanderhorst Lynk became Jackson, Tennessee’s first physician. Lynk was born on June 3, 1871, in Brownsville, Tennessee, the son of former slaves. Lynk’s father was murdered when he was only six years old.


He was running the farm by the age of eleven. His mother made sure he went to school five months out of the year, and when he wasn’t in school, he read at home, which he dubbed “Pine Knot College.”


He began teaching in Fayette County at the age of seventeen, saving his money to further his education. Lynk went on to earn his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1891.


Lynk became Jackson’s first black physician and founded The Medical and Surgical Observer, the first medical journal published by an African American, which ran monthly from 1892 to 1894. From 1898 to 1900, he also published a literary magazine. In 1895, Lynk co-founded the National Medical Association for African American Physicians.


In 1900, Lynk established the University of West Tennessee, which included departments of medicine, law, dentistry, and nursing. The school relocated to Memphis in 1907. Dr. Fanny Kneeland, one of Memphis’s first female physicians, served on the faculty.


Clinical training was provided by Jane Terrell Baptist Hospital. The school had issued 216 medical degrees when it closed in 1924. Lynk wrote several books and articles in addition to practicing medicine. Lynk passed away on December 29, 1956.


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