Wellesley College, 106 Central St, Wellesley, MA 02481
Hull House, 800 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60607
Common Burying Ground Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA
Dr Harriett Alleyne Rice (1866 – 1958) was the first African American to graduate from Wellesley College. She was awarded the Medal of French Gratitude for her contributions in World War I. Rice, a young African-American doctor, couldn’t get work in Chicago because of the double jeopardy of being Black and female: instead she provided free medical services for the Hull-House neighbourhood.
Rice was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of George A. Rice (1825-1894) and Lucinda Rice (1832-1903). Rice graduated from Rogers High School in 1882.
She was the first African-American graduate of Wellesley College in 1887. After attending University of Michigan medical school for a year from 1888 to 1889, she obtained her MD in 1891 from the Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. However, as an African-American woman in this era she was unable to practice medicine in any American hospital, and so she joined the social worker and suffragist leader Jane Addams at Hull House in Chicago in 1893, where she provided medical treatment for the poor. In 1897 she joined Chicago Maternity Hospital and Training School for Nursery Maids as the only doctor. In 1901 she worked in the Hull-House branch of the Chicago Bureau of Charities, doing relief work. When World War I broke out Rice traveled to France and practiced as a medical intern at a hospital in Poitiers, staying for almost four years. Rice served in French hospitals from 1915-1918 after being denied service by the Red Cross due to her race. For this she was recognized by the French Embassy and awarded the Medal of French Gratitude. She died in Worcester, MA in 1958 and is buried in Newport's Common Burying Ground.
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