In the fall of 1850, the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the City of New York (P&S, later to become Columbia’s medical school) expelled a student named James Parker Barnett for purportedly having “African blood flowing in his veins,” even though Barnett had been attending P&S for two years! What had P&S administrators learned about Barnett?
In the racial environment of antebellum New York, such discrimination might have passed unnoticed. But James Parker Barnett’s father refused to accept his son’s expulsion without a fight...
Years later, during New York City’s Civil War Draft Riots, Barnett would play a small but critical role protecting children at the Colored Orphan Asylum as angry rioters looted and burned down the building.
Bob Vietrogoski, the Head of Special Collections at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and formerly an archivist at the Columbia University Medical Center, has been researching this long-forgotten episode in P&S history for over a decade. Come learn about 19th century medical education at P&S, antebellum racial thought, the Barnett family and Dr. James McCune Smith, and the events of one of the darkest days in New York City history.
History of Health Sciences Lecture Series
Thursday, October 10 at 6pm preceded with light refreshments at 5:30pm
Russ Berrie Pavilion, 1150 St. Nicholas Ave at West 168th St, Room 2