Solomon Carter Fuller

Quick Look At Fuller

Solomon Carter Fuller was the first-ever African American psychiatrist, and he also had a career as a physician, as well as a pathologist. He also was a leader in Alzheimer's research.

Early Life and Education

Fuller was born on August 11, 1872, in Monrovia, Liberia. His grandparents were former slaves from Virginia, who were able to buy their freedom, and move to Liberia. From a young age, Fuller showed an interest in a medical career. In 1889, he moved to the U.S. to attend Livingstone College. Fuller completed his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine in 1897, a degree in which he had started at Long Island Medical School. After graduating, he completed an internship at Westborough State Hospital, a hospital in Massachusetts.


Fuller stayed at Westborough State Hospital and worked as a pathologist. Here, he was faced with racial discrimination like unequal salaries and underemployment. He was also working three professions at the same time, a pathologist, a faculty member at the Boston University School of Medicine, and a psychiatrist with his own private practice. In becoming a psychiatrist, Fuller made history by being the first-ever African American to hold this profession. In 1903, he was one of five pathologists chosen to travel to Germany, where he would work with Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a psychiatrist. In studying in Germany, Fuller gained interest in neuropathology and the brain disease that would later be known as Alzheimer's disease. When he returned to America, he published some of the first papers written in English on Alzheimer's disease. In 1909, he married a sculptor, known worldwide at the time, named Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller. Together, they had three children, naming them Solomon C., William T., and Perry J. At the Veterans Hospital, Fuller helped to correctly diagnose the side effects of syphilis, and he taught others to do the same. He did this to prevent Black war veterans from being misdiagnosed and therefore discharged, no longer eligible for military/veteran benefits. On January 16, 1953, Solomon Carter Fuller died of diabetes.

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller dedicated his life to medical efforts and research that have gotten us where we are today. He also juggled racial discrimination throughout his career. He showed young doctors and psychiatrists that anything can be overcome.