Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee

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Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee
Born Dorothy Celeste Boulding
(1898-10-10)October 10, 1898
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Died September 14, 1980(1980-09-14) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma mater Simmons College
Tufts University Medical School
Scientific career
Fields Obstetrics, gynecology
Institutions Howard University Medical School
Women's Institute
Mississippi Health Project
Alpha Kappa Alpha

Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee (October 10, 1898 – September 14, 1980) was an American obstetrician and civil rights activist.[1]


Early life[edit]

Ferebee was born to Benjamin Richard Boulding, a railroad superintendent, and Florence Boulding, a teacher, in Norfolk, Virginia. When her mother became ill, Dorothy went to live with a great-aunt in Boston, Massachusetts, where she graduated from Simmons College in 1920 and was in the top five of her Tufts University Medical School graduating class in 1924.[2]


Ferebee was affiliated with Howard University's Medical school, starting in 1927 as an instructor of Obstetrics, and later as the medical director of the Howard University Health Service from 1949-1968, all while maintaining her own private practice.[3]

She was also instrumental in establishing the Southeast Neighborhood House, an adjunct of the whites-only Friendship House medical center, to provide medical care and other community services to African-Americans in Washington, D.C. She served as the first medical director for the Mississippi Health Project, "a seven year program stands as one the most impressive examples of voluntary public health work ever conducted by black physicians in the Jim Crow South, touching thousands of black Mississippians at a time when they had virtually no access to professional medical care".[4]

She served as the tenth International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority from 1939 until 1941. She then served as the second president of the National Council of Negro Women, from 1949 to 1953, succeeding its founder, Mary McLeod Bethune. She also served as the director of health services at Howard University Medical School from 1949 until 1968. From 1969 to 1972, Dr. Ferebee served at the national fourth vice president of Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

She was the first recipient, in 1959, of Simmons College's Alumnae Achievement Award. The college also awards several scholarships in her name each year.

Personal life[edit]

Ferebee was married in 1930 to a dentist, Claude Thurston Ferebee. He was a Howard University College of Dentistry professor, with whom she had twins, Dorothy and Claude Jr. Ferebee died on September 14, 1980, in Washington, D.C.[5]

In 1990 Washington Highland Elementary School, at 3999 Eighth Street, SE, was renamed Ferebee-Hope Elementary School to honor Ferebee and also Marion Conover Hope.[6] The school was closed in 2013, but the next door recreation center, also named Ferebee-Hope, remained open.[7]


  1. ^ McNealey, Earnestine Green (2006). Pearls of Service: The Legacy of America's First Black Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Chicago: Alpha Kappa Alpha. pp. 219–220. LCCN 2006928528. 
  2. ^ "American National Biography Online". Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  3. ^ "American National Biography Online". Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  4. ^ Ward Jr., Thomas J. (2003). Black physicians in the Jim Crow South. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press. p. 239. ISBN 1557287562. 
  5. ^ "Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee". Changing the Face of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  6. ^ "Dorothy Boulding Ferebee Residence". Retrieved 24 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "Ferebee-Hope Scorecard 2012-2013 school year" (PDF). Retrieved 24 June 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

Kiesel, Diane (2015). She Can Bring Us Home: Dr. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee, Civil Rights Pioneer. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9781612345062. 

External links[edit]