Henry Minton was an African American doctor and a co-founder of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He spent a year studying law at the University of Pennsylvania, then three years studying pharmacy at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He opened a drugstore in 1897, the first to be operated by an African American. In 1906 he got his M.D. degree and became the first pharmacist at the Douglass Hospital, where he later served on its board of directors. In 1920 Minton succeeded Algernon Jackson as the superintendent of the Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia, a post he held for the next twenty-four years. Minton was also on the staff of the Henry Phipps Institute, which was famous for its treatment of tuberculosis.
Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity – founded 1904
The first Greek-letter fraternity founded by African American men was established in 1904 and named the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. In 1908 chapter representatives from Chicago, Baltimore and other cities met in Philadelphia and established the Grand Boulé to provide central leadership. The fraternity believed in the absolute equality of standing of its members, therefore anyone who was eligible to be a member was deemed qualified for leadership. Officers were henceforth selected by lot, a tradition that lasted until 1970. The fraternity was established so that black learned and professional men could have an organization not based on brains alone, but also congeniality, culture and good fellowship.
This Henry Minton mug is part of our African American Series profiling outstanding men and women who have helped shape our country in important and positive ways.
The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history. The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton. He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia tone. The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.
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