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Barnes, William Harry (04 April 1887–15 June 1945), physician and otolaryngologist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George W. Barnes, a menial laborer, and Eliza Webb. Young Barnes and his two sisters lived poverty-stricken lives on Lombard Street, a very poor area of the city. He decided at an early age to become a physician, a decision unheard of and regarded as preposterous in his neighborhood. His parents tried to discourage him from pursuing what to them seemed like an absolutely impossible dream for a poor black youth, hoping rather to get him to focus his attention on getting realistic employment. Determined, he walked ten miles every day to and from school and from his after-school work as a porter and messenger for jewelry shops. During summers he worked as a porter in hotels. Seeing people who lived a far different and more elegant lifestyle than his own galvanized him to work himself out of poverty. In 1908 he graduated from Philadelphia’s Central High School with a collegiate bachelor of arts degree and decided to compete for a four-year scholarship to medical school offered by the University of Pennsylvania. He spent the entire summer of 1908 in serious study, took the competitive examination, passed it, and became the first black person to ever win that scholarship. Four years later, in 1912, he received an M.D. and began an internship (1912–1913) at Douglass and Mercy hospitals in Philadelphia. Also in 1912 he married Mattie E. Thomas; they would have five children....

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Solis-Cohen, Jacob da Silva (28 February 1838–22 December 1927), physician and pioneer laryngologist, was born in New York City, the son of Myer David Cohen and Judith Simiah da Silva Solis. In 1840 the family moved to Philadelphia, where, twenty years later, Solis-Cohen received an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He began his medical residency in 1861 at Old Blockley in Philadelphia but resigned the same year to enlist as a private in the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was soon commissioned as a lieutenant in the infantry and later appointed as assistant surgeon in the Twenty-sixth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. He served the regiment in ...