Ulysses Grant Dailey Papers, 1884-1980
Biographical Note: Ulysses Grant Dailey
Scope and Content: Ulysses Grant Dailey Papers, 1884-1980
Biography | Manuscripts | Correspondence | Dailey Hospital
Provident Hospital | International Work | Programs
Serials and Clippings | Photographs | Memorabilia
|Provenance:||Donation of Dr. Leonidas Berry. Dr. Berry received Dr. Dailey’s papers from Eleanor Dailey.|
|Size:||3 linear feet (6 archival boxes)|
|Repository:||Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library (Chicago Public Library), 9525 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60628|
|Citation:||When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Ulysses Grant Dailey (Box #, Folder #), Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library.|
|Processed by:||Traci Parker, Harsh Archival Processing Project|
|Supervised by:||Michael Flug, Senior Archivist, Harsh Archival Processing Project|
Dr. Ulysses Grant Dailey, renowned African American surgeon, was born on August 3, 1885 in Donaldsonville, La. Dailey was born to Tony Hanna Dailey, a bartender, and Missouri Johnson, a teacher. He received his early education at Straight College’s preparatory academy (later Dillard University) in New Orleans and at Fort Worth (Texas) High School.
As a student at Fort Worth High School, Dailey worked as an office assistant for Dr. Ernest L. Stephens, a white physician and professor of material medica in the medical department of Fort Worth University, and was influenced to pursue a career in medicine.
In 1902 Dailey entered Northwestern University Medical School. He was the youngest of the 150 students in his class. While pursuing his studies, Dailey served as an assistant and instructor in the anatomical laboratory for two years, and for two summers supervised the dissecting room. He received his medical degree in June 1906.
Dailey served as surgical assistant to Dr. George Cleveland Hall during his externship at Provident Hospital, an African American-run Chicago hospital, and later became surgical assistant to Provident founder Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. As Williams’ assistant, Dailey participated in operations and in the preparation of numerous articles and lectures, and grew to see Williams as his role model. These men would remain close until Williams’ death in 1931.
In 1907 Provident Hospital appointed Dailey gynecologist to its dispensary. Three years later, in 1910, he became an associate surgeon, and from 1912 to 1926 he was an attending surgeon. Dailey also served as an instructor in clinical surgery at Northwestern from 1916 to 1918; from 1920 to 1926 he was an attending surgeon at Fort Dearborn Hospital. In 1912 and 1925 Dailey took two trips of several months each to Europe for postgraduate studies on surgical subjects. The first trip was to Paris and Berlin; during his second trip, Dailey studied at prestigious universities, hospitals and clinics in London, Leeds, Manchester, Paris, Rome and Vienna for seven months.
In 1916 Dailey married Eleanor Jane Curtis, sister of Dr. Austin M. Curtis of Washington, D.C., another renowned surgeon and president of the National Medical Association. In 1924 the couple adopted 5-year-old twins, Eleanor Jane and Ulysses Grant, Jr.
By 1926 Dailey had grown frustrated by the politics of Provident Hospital and decided to open his own medical institution. That year, Dailey established the Dailey Hospital and Sanitarium in two remodeled homes located on Michigan Boulevard at 37th Street. Dailey served as the hospital’s surgeon-in-chief for six years. Under his leadership, the hospital provided affiliations for young black specialists and good care for black patients. During the Depression, Dailey Hospital and Sanitarium began to face financial difficulties when its banking institution, the Binga State Bank (a black-owned and operated bank in Chicago), was closed down in 1930. Despite a fine medical record, Dr. Dailey had to shut the doors of Dailey Hospital and Sanitarium in 1932.
After the closing of his hospital, Dailey returned to Provident Hospital. He was appointed one of the senior attending surgeons in 1933 and later became senior consulting physician of this institution. At the time of his retirement, Dailey was the chief of the surgical staff.
Dailey encountered much racial discrimination throughout his career. Yet despite these barriers, he achieved much success. He was elected a member of the American College of Surgeons in 1945. The only previous African American members had been Dailey’s mentor and friend Williams, a charter member in 1913, and Louis Tompkins Wright in 1943. He joined the National Medical Association (the black counterpart of the American Medical Association) in 1908, where he remained an active member for 53 years. He served as chairman of the Surgical Section in 1914, served as president of the National Medical Association in 1915-1916 (becoming the youngest president up to that time and the first from Chicago) and gave the Oration in Surgery in 1940. Dailey co-founded the International College of Surgeons. As a leader and member of this organization, he traveled to and gave surgical lectures and clinics in Pakistan, India, Japan and other countries. Among his travels was a five-day visit with Albert Schweitzer’s Forest Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon.
Dailey also made major contributions to medical literature both as writer and editor. He served on the board of trustees, the editorial board, and as associate editor and editor for the Journal of the National Medical Association. Dailey wrote some 60 articles for Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics: Annals of Surgery, The American Journal of Digestive Diseases, The New York Journal of Surgery, Journal of International College of Surgeons, Journal of the National Medical Association, Indiana State Medical Association Journal, Surgical Clinics of North America and The Medicus, among others.
Among Dailey’s major achievements were his research contributions to the treatment of peptic ulcers, for which he originated the technique of phrenic nerve crush in 1950, and the treatment of the thyroid. Dailey spoke and wrote frequently on these treatments.
After a long and outstanding career, Dailey retired from his position as chief of surgical staff at Provident Hospital in 1952 and retired from active practice in 1956. He and Eleanor then retreated to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to spend their final years. They had often visited and enjoyed Haiti, and Dr. Dailey had served as Haiti’s honorary consul in Chicago for several years. After a few months, Dailey’s health began to deteriorate, and he and his wife returned to Chicago. Dailey died in Chicago on April 22, 1961.
- Beatty, William K. “Ulysses Grant Dailey.” African American National Biography. Eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, v. 2. Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Beatty, William K. “Ulysses Grant Dailey: Surgeon, Teacher and Ambassador.” Proceedings of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago v. 38 (1982).
- Preston, Donald. The Scholar and the Scalpel: The Story of Ulysses Grant Dailey. Afro-Am Pub. Co., 1966.
- Smith, Norman R. Footprints of Black Louisiana. Xlibris Corporation, 2011.
The Ulysses Grant Dailey Papers document the life and career of Ulysses Grant Dailey. This collection has been arranged into 10 series: Biography, Manuscripts, Correspondence, Dailey Hospital, Provident Hospital, International Work, Programs, Serials and Clippings, Photographs and Memorabilia.
Related papers at the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection include the Sisi Donald Mosby Papers, the Richard Durham Papers, the Leonidas Berry Papers and the Robert S. Abbott-John H. Sengstacke Family Papers.
Series 1: Biography, 1954-1980
This series contains biographical materials. Of particular interest are manuscript drafts and research notes of biographies on Ulysses Grant Dailey written by Helen Buckler, Donald Mosby and David Preston. Also included is the published book The Scholar and the Scalpel: The Story of Ulysses Grant Dailey (1966).
Series 2: Manuscripts, 1910-1957
The manuscripts have been arranged chronologically and consist of medical articles and essays by Ulysses Grant Dailey. Also included are manuscripts composed by other notable persons, such as Richard Durham and Albert Schweitzer.
Series 3: Correspondence, 1948-1959
This series consists primarily of correspondence written to Ulysses Grant Dailey.
Series 4: Dailey Hospital, 1924-1932
The Dailey Hospital series documents the history and operation of Dailey Hospital and Sanitarium. Included is a statement by Dailey about this medical institution and several of the hospital’s operating room record books.
Series 5: Provident Hospital, 1936-1954
This series contains records from Ulysses Grant Dailey’s tenure at Provident Hospital. Of particular interest are acceptance letters to a banquet honoring U.G. Dailey in 1948 (from such notable persons as Dr. Max Thorek, other members of the American College of Surgeons and International College of Surgeons, etc.) and correspondence to/from C.W. Troxel and Theophilus Mann regarding Dailey’s time at Provident Hospital.
Series 6: International Work, 1946-1959
The International Work series documents Ulysses Grant Dailey’s medical work in under-developed countries such as Haiti, Brazil, India, Pakistan and Nigeria. This series includes travel itineraries and writings by Dailey on his work and observations about medicine outside the United States.
Series 7: Programs, 1906-1955
This series contains programs of events and activities attended by Dailey.
Series 8: Serials and Clippings, 1934-1955
The serial The Private Physician and clippings related to the life and work of Ulysses Grant Dailey comprise this series. This series has been arranged chronologically.
Series 9: Photographs, 1884-1954
One of the largest series in this collection, the photographs are of Dr. Ulysses Grant Dailey, Mrs. Eleanor Dailey and other members of the Dailey family. Also in this series are photographs that document Dailey’s work abroad.
Series 10: Memorabilia, 1944-1961
Memorabilia consists of business cards, greeting cards, brochures and invitations. Of particular interest is a resolution/tribute to Dailey from the city of Chicago, which is accompanied by correspondence from Mayor Richard J. Daley.
Ulysses Grant Dailey Papers, Predominant dates 1910-1961, Inclusive dates 1884-1980