Weill Cornell Medicine Events

Manhattan's Masters of Health: Racial Science in New York City's Medical Schools, 1767-1861

Join Christopher Willoughby as he shares the origins of theories and practices that normalize medical racism and the racial health gap today. When past historians discussed early American medicine and racism, they focused on sites like plantations and southern hospitals. This focus on southern institutions obscured the critical role that northern medical schools played in disseminating theories of racial difference. Medical faculty in New York lectured that Black people had distinct anatomies and were, perhaps, a distinct species. At the same time, students were training on corpses stolen from Black New Yorkers, sometimes leading to mass protest. Willoughby will discuss the critical role that New York medical schools played in disseminating racial science in the decades leading up to the U.S. Civil War.

Christopher Willoughby is a historian of medicine and slavery in the United States. He wrote Masters of Health: Racial Science and Slavery in U.S. Medical Schools, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2022. Alongside Sean Morey Smith, he edited the volume Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery in 2021. Willoughby teaches African American and African Diaspora Studies in the Interdiscplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

This is a hybrid lecture coordinated by the Weill Cornell Medicine Heberden Society. Onsite attendance is available in A-126 (1300 York Avenue.) Virtual attendance is available at https://weillcornell.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3Sp3-_QjQ668O0mZGvRMeA#/registration

Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Uris Faculty Room A-126
1300 York Avenue, New York, NY

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Medical Center Archives




Free and open to the public

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Christopher Willoughby, PhD

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