Freedmen's Hospital, the forerunner of Howard University Hospital, served the black community in the District of Columbia for more than a century, having been established in 1862 to cater for the medical needs of the thousands of African Americans who came to Washington, DC, during the Civil War, seeking their freedom. The first hospital of its kind to provide medical treatment for former slaves, it later became the major hospital for the area's African-American community.
Freedmen's Hospital and Asylum was first established in 1862 on the grounds of the Camp Barker, 13th and R Streets, NW, and cared for freed, disabled and aged blacks. In 1863, it was placed under the charge of Dr. Alexander Augusta, the first African American to head a hospital. After the Civil War, it became the teaching hospital of Howard University Medical School, established in 1868, while remaining under federal control.
Early in the 20th century, Congress authorized the construction of a new hospital, which was completed in 1909. When Abraham Flexner visited the District of Columbia that year, he was impressed by the new, 278-bed Freedmen's Hospital and thought only Howard University Medical School in the city had a promising future.
In 1967, Freedmen's Hospital was transferred to Howard University and used as a hospital until 1975. The University Hospital is now located in a modern facility at 2041 Georgia Avenue, NW. The original Freedmen's building (Bryant and 6th Streets) still stands and now houses Howard University's John H. Johnson School of Communications. Freedmen's Hall, a permanent museum located at the University Hospital, is devoted to the history of medical education and health care at Howard University.
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