Jane Hinton

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Jane Hinton
Jane Hinton.jpg
Born(1919-05-01)May 1, 1919
Died9 April 2003(2003-04-09) (aged 83)
Alma mater
Known for

Jane Hinton (1919-2003) was one of the first two African-American women to gain the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1949).[1] Prior to her veterinary medicine studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she had been a laboratory technician at Harvard, co-developing the Mueller-Hinton agar, a culture medium that is now commonly used to test bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics.[2][3] She later practiced as a small animal veterinarian in Massachusetts, and then as a federal government inspector.[1] Hinton was the daughter of William Augustus Hinton, a microbiologist and the first African-American professor at Harvard University.

Early life and education[edit]

Jane Hinton was born on 1 May 1919.[4] Her father, William Augustus Hinton (1883-1959), was a bacteriologist and pathologist who was an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis, including the development of tests for syphilis. The son of former slaves,[5] he was the first African-American professor at Harvard University and the first African-American author of a textbook. He entered laboratory medicine because racism in Boston prevented him from gaining an internship in medicine.[6] Jane Hinton's mother was Ada Hawes (b. 1878), a high school teacher and social worker, born in Georgia.[7][8][9] William and Ada married in 1909,[6] and had two daughters, Jane and Ann Hinton Jones.[4][10]


Colonies of Burkholderia pseudomallei on Müller-Hinton agar after 72 hours incubation.

In 1931, Hinton's father developed a Medical Laboratory Techniques course, which was open to women, although that profession was then generally not open to women.[11] Jane Hinton worked in Harvard's laboratories at the time she co-developed the Mueller-Hinton agar with John Howard Mueller.[3] This agar, or broth, was a medium developed to isolate the Neisseria bacteria that caused meningococcal and gonorrhea. It became the most widely used culture medium for Neisseria. In the 1960s, tests indicated its suitability for detecting whether bacteria are susceptible to antibiotics.[2] Mueller-Hinton agar became a standard laboratory medium for this purpose.

During World War II, Hinton also worked as a lab technician in Arizona.[12] After the War, Hinton studied veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, gaining her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (VMD) degree in 1949. She and Alfreda Johnson Webb, who graduated with a VMD from the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) that year, were the first African-American women veterinarians.[1] There had been only four African-American VMD graduates at the University of Pennsylvania before Hinton gained her degree, and there would not be another until 1968.[13] Hinton and Webb were also the first African-American members of the Women's Veterinary Medicine Association.[14]

After gaining her degree, Hinton practiced as a small animal veterinarian in Canton, Massachusetts and then a federal government inspector in Framingham, Massachusetts.[1]

Jane Hinton, together with John Taylor, the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania veterinary medicine school, were honored during the school's centennial celebrations by the Minority Veterinary Students association in 1984.[15]

Jane Hinton died on 9 April 2003.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d Smith, Jessie Carney (2013). Handy African American history answer book. ISBN 978-1578594887. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Product Information and Quality Control Sheet: Mueller Hinton Agar" (PDF). Health Link. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b Mueller, J.H.; Hinton, J. (1 October 1941). "A Protein-Free Medium for Primary Isolation of the Gonococcus and Meningococcus". Experimental Biology and Medicine. 48 (1): 330–333. doi:10.3181/00379727-48-13311.
  4. ^ a b Harvard College (1920). Harvard College Class of 1905 Fourth Report. Plimpton Press. p. 155.
  5. ^ Decker, Ed. "William Augustus Hinton 1883–1959". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b Gates, Henry Louis Jr; Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks, eds. (2004). African American Lives. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199882861.
  7. ^ Who's who in Massachusetts. Larkin, Roosevelt & Larkin. 1940. p. 384. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  8. ^ Adams, Myron Winslow (1918). General Catalogue of Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia: 1867-1918. Atlanta University Press. p. 45. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  9. ^ Tucker, Cynthia Grant (2010). No silent witness the Eliot parsonage women and their Unitarian world. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0199780143. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Dr. William A. Hinton dies; led fight against syphilis". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 9 August 1959. p. 8. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  11. ^ Bloomberg, Robert; Bird, Daniel (2015). Tufts Medical Center. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1439653708.
  12. ^ "Celebrating Black History Month". College of Veterinary Medicine. Michigan State University. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Horizons Unlimited - The years 1952-1973". Penn Vet History. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  14. ^ Kahler, Susan C (1 October 2013). "Women's organization nurtured, influenced". JAVMA News. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Centennial Year Affairs". Bellwether (Vol 1, No 12). University of Pennsylvania. Summer 1984. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Deaths". Bellwether (Vol 1, No 56). University of Pennsylvania. Spring 2003.