Harry Barnes Society

Dr. William Harry Barnes was the first certified Negro specialist in the United States. In 1924, Dr. Barnes received board approval from the otorhinolaryngology department, and three years later on May 16th, 1927 he received his certification.

William Harry Barnes was born in 1887 to poor parents, and therefore had to work to pursue his education. Dr. Barnes started his medical career back in the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, graduating in 1912 and then taking on an internship in the otorhinolaryngology field. After completing the internship he was appointed Assistant otolaryngologist at the Philadelphia Fredrick Douglas Hospital. It was not long before he became the Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology. He also is known for giving birth to the Society for the Promotion of Negro Specialist in Medicine (S.P.N.S.M), whose mission was to stimulate, encourage, assist and promote the development of specialists among the Negro medical profession. They had a charter detailing the qualifications for membership and the requirements associated with being a member. One of the key elements of S.P.N.S.M was that it offered seminars free of charge led by faculty for each respective specialty: surgery, internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, gynecology, etc.