NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Read More

Nathan Francis Mossell's 30-page autobiography

Nathan Francis Mossell left all of his papers to the University of Pennsylvania when he died.  These papers included a 30-page autobiography, which he actually wrote on recycled paper.

Charles Barkley's
Black History Month All Stars

All Star #18: Nathan Francis Mossell

I speak at a lot of schools across the country, and I’ve encountered a trend that drives me freakin’ nuts. I always ask students the following question:

“How many of you want to be a professional athlete or a rapper?”

At inner-city, mostly African American schools, nearly every hand shoots up. When I ask the same question in a white suburban school, maybe 10 percent of hands are raised. I speak to a lot of schools, and this happens without fail.

I tell black kids all the time, “You ain’t gonna be me.” Even if you’re any good on the court, the odds are stacked against you. But I can tell from the blank way they look back at me: They’re putting all their eggs in this totally unlikely basket. But I get why. Young black kids get from the media an unrealistic picture of African American success. Athletes and rappers, with Denzel and Oprah thrown in.

So to mark Black History Month here at The Citizen, I’m going to introduce you every day to my Philadelphia Black History Month All-Stars. Many of them didn’t make it into the history books or even the newspapers of their time. But their stories are inspiring and worth knowing.

18

Nathan Francis Mossell

Physician

Nathan Francis Mossell

Physician

(July 27, 1856 – October 27, 1946)

Nathan Francis Mossell was a pioneer physician who established the first black private hospital in Philadelphia, Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School, that both treated African Americans and trained black nurses and doctors. Uncle to All Star Sadie Mossell Alexander, he was the first African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania medical school, and the first to join the Philadelphia County Medical Society. Mossell was also an activist, founding the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, and joining W.E.B. DuBois’s Niagara Movement. Mossell left his papers to Penn, including his autobiography in which he writes, “It is plain therefore, that prior to the Civil War, the so-called free colored people had few, if any, rights that the white man felt bound to respect. This mental attitude on his part, so hampered the colored people’s ideas of themselves that it still shrouds their efforts to attain a more inclusive legal franchise for themselves.”

EDUCATION:

  • Lincoln University B.A., 1879
  • University of Pennsylvania M.D., 1882

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • First African American to earn a medical degree from Penn
  • First African American to join the Philadelphia Medical Society
  • Founded first private black hospital in Philadelphia that would not only treat African Americans but also train and teach black nurses and doctors
  • Fought for the desegregation of Girard College

 

FINAL WORD: In Mossell’s autobiography, he writes, “One may wonder how a physician can find so much time to champion the cause of his people. I have been no less spared from the indignities of segregation and discrimination than the non-professional colored person. In waging a fight to help free others from the infringements of Jim Crowism, I also help free myself.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia/University of Pennsylvania, University Archives and Records Center

Recent Tweets
@THEPHILACITIZEN

@thephilacitizen @@thephilacitizen
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Closing the generation—and employment—gap with the Refugee Urban Farm in South Philly. https://t.co/66wwl275Om 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
WURD's @Cdellison takes on Tuesday's voter turnout, which, while a bit better, is hardly anything to celebrate: https://t.co/aakojzyImf 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
North Philly mom of seven wins The Citizen's $5,000 Voter Lottery. Watch the giveaway: https://t.co/ftiIihhsAu 🙌🏾 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
J.P. Romney on how Philly's bizarro ward system affects the way we vote: https://t.co/AOX4bULRhA #yourcitydefined 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Larry Platt on the archaic system we use to elect judges: https://t.co/FShpXjewIp 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Stop all the back-patting. We just let 11 percent of the city’s population tell us what to do and how to live: https://t.co/aakojzyImf 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
We’re Hiring! Join our team as a Special Events Coordinator. #JobsPHL https://t.co/qi2XBvUtNA 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Using a Shark Tank format, Penn students pitch their social innovation projects that they think could improve PHL: https://t.co/6FmjpsPgxT 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Really? Turnout was good? We just let 11 percent of the city’s population tell us what to do and how to live 🤔… https://t.co/7cf36HVKWk 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
HEADS UP: @BeautifulPHL is awarding 5 $1K minigrants to local orgs committed to combating cigarette litter. Details: https://t.co/ZDTjtvJdOz 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
RT @Commish_Schmidt:Here's an updated look at voter turnout in recent District Attorney/City Controller Primary Elections in Philadelph… https://t.co/5RzU6yJQit 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
.@mompopsphilly signs massive national deal, delivering even more popsicles to kids with dietary issues:… https://t.co/SBLVMXbVsa 

LOAD MORE

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story