Civil War and Reconstruction
Science and Medicine Asa Gray Science and Medicine Meharry Science and Medicine Polk

Science and Medicine

During Reconstruction Tennessee made progress in the medical field. The state also drew national attention for its scientific development. 
Nashville hosted the 26th Annual Meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1877. The meeting was an important event. Nashville was the first southern city to host the convention after the Civil War.  
The scientists discussed many topics. They learned about two moons dis-cover-ed near Mars. They talked about rocks and minerals. Some made presentations on Native American cultures. 
Nashville school principal Helen K. Ingram spoke about public health. Many of the scientists were interested in learning more about diseases and how they spread. Ingram was the very first woman to speak at this group’s conference. 
The scientists also visited Sarah Polk. She was President James K. Polk’s widow who lived in Nashville.
In 1876, George Whipple Hubbard helped create Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Meharry was founded to provide former slaves with better medical care. The college trained African American students to be doctors. 
Both men and women attended the school. At this time only a few medical schools accepted black students. Meharry College offered black students valuable opportunities to learn.
To learn more about Meharry Medical College, click here

Picture Credits:
  • Wood engraving of “Asa Gray, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.” This image was created in 1880. Gray was President of the AAAS during the 1860s. New York Public Library
  • Drawing of “Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee.” This image was originally published in 1890 for The Colored Man in the Methodist Episcopal Church. New York Public Library
  • Oil painting of Sarah Childress Polk. Polk shown as an elderly woman dressed in black. This portrait was created in 1878 by George Dury. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 1.882

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