William Augustus Hinton

Quick Look At Hinton

William Augustus Hinton was a pathologist and bacteriologist. He was also the first Black professor at Harvard University Medical School, and he was the first African American to write a medical textbook.

Early Life

William Augustus Hinton was born on December 15, 1883, in Chicago, Illinois. Hinton lived in Kansas for a lot of his childhood, and he was the youngest person to ever graduate from his high school. His parents instilled in him their belief in the importance of everyone having equal opportunities.


Hinton attended two years of college, and he left to earn enough money for the education he sought. He later returned to school at Harvard University and graduated in 1905. Before going to medical school, Hinton accepted a job as a teacher in order to earn money. He refused to accept a scholarship for Black students because of his belief about equal opportunities for everyone. After working as a teacher for a while, Hinton went to Harvard Medical School, where he graduated with his degree in only 3 years!


Fresh out of college, Hinton worked in the biological lab that was associated with the school he graduated from. In 1915, the lab was transferred to belong to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. When this happened, Hinton became the chief of the lab. In 1918, he was appointed as a professor at Harvard University. He taught Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. Hinton made history at that moment because this made him the school's very first Black professor in the 313 years that it had been around! In 1921, he began teaching Immunology and Bacteriology. Hinton was a teacher at Harvard for over 30 years! During his career, Hinton became an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis. He created a test called the Hinton test which tested for the disease way more accurately than the tests that had been out at the time. In 1934, the Hinton test was endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service. Following his breakthrough with the Hinton test, Hinton created another syphilis test called the Davies-Hinton test. This tested for syphilis in the blood and spinal fluid.

In 1936, Hinton created the first medical textbook written by an African-American. Syphilis and its Treatment educated the public on the disease. In 1938, he was presented with NAACP's Spingarn Medal, but he would not accept it. Staying true to his beliefs, Hinton did not want his race to be a factor in his success. He didn't want to be known as a successful Black doctor, he wanted to be known as a successful doctor. He also did not want his colleagues to know that he was Black because due to the Jim Crow mindset of the 1900s, he didn't believe that he would not be taken as seriously. In 1948, Hinton became a life member of the American Social Science Association, and the lab that he worked for early in his career was named after him. Many awards from colleges and medical associations have also been named after Hinton.

On August 8, 1959, Hinton died of diabetes. In his life and his career, he made revolutionary advances that helped people get the treatment they needed. He also made history multiple times in the medical field, in teaching, and in graduating from his high school.