Sara Winifred Brown
Educator, Physician, Activist
Sara Winifred Brown, born in 1868 in Winchester, Virginia, was a teacher and a physician who spent her lifetime helping others to help themselves. From working as a Red Cross relief worker during a series of floods to becoming the first female trustee of Howard University, Brown devoted much of her life to the public service of others.
Brown attended Virginia's all-Black Hampton Normal and Agriculture Institute (now Hampton University), graduating with honors. She went on to teach English at the District of Columbia Normal School, though her quest for knowledge soon got the better of her.
In 1894, Brown took a leave of absence to attend Cornell University, where she got involved with many organizations, including the Jugtae, a society for those interested in biology. Brown graduated from Cornell with an A.B. degree in 1897, then returned to Washington to resume her teaching career but now as a biology teacher.
Dr. Brown enrolled at Howard University to study medicine, receiving her M.D. in 1904. She then went into practice part-time and continued her studies. Thirsting for further knowledge, Brown studied sociology and anthropology under Columbia University professors and during a trip to Europe attending lectures at Sorbonne.
From 1908 to 1911, Dr. Brown assisted Howard University's medical department, lecturing on gynecology. She made history on June 3, 1924, when the university elected her to its board, making Brown the first female alumni trustee of Howard, a position she held until her death in 1948.
Dr. Brown also gave extensively of herself, helping many local and national organizations such as the Women's War Council, which appointed her one of 50 female physicians in its "Flying Squadron." The American Red Cross drafted her as a relief worker in Mississippi and Louisiana following severe flooding in 1927. In 1930, Dr. Brown was named as a physician to accompany a Gold Star Mothers pilgrimage to France.