Wilhelm Delano Meriwether Oral History Interview, March 7, 2008

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Meriwether, William Delano

Wilhelm Delano Meriwether was the first African-American to graduate from the Duke University School of Medicine.

Contains interview tapes and transcript of an oral history interview with Wilhelm Delano Meriwether. Major subjects in this interview include Meriwether's experiences integrating the Duke University School of Medicine. This interview was conducted on 7 March 2008 by Jessica Roseberry.

1 interview (2 CDs, 1 transcript)
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Dr. Meriwether speaks about his educational background; coming to Duke University School of Medicine due to the influence of his father; other schools that were integrating their medical schools at the same time; integrating the wards at Duke; women medical students at Duke; the quality of education at Duke; the fairness of the exchange made when he became the first African-American graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine and brought federal monies to the institution; the social developments at Duke and in America; the integration of the wards occurring without his participation; the lack of fanfare at Duke for his being a student in the medical school; his focus primarily on the typical challenges associated with medical school; Dr. Brenda Armstrong's more activist stance as a student at Duke; his thankfulness that his father convinced him to go to Duke; his father's desire that Duke be forced to do what was morally right; society's movement toward social responsibility in the area of global warming; his experience at Duke affecting his later decision to go to South Africa; his work as a physician in South Africa; his ability to take the Duke experience in stride; his desire to be a good doctor as being more important to him than the integration of the medical school; his experiences with research; some of the people he was working with at Duke; following Dr. James Wyngaarden to the University of Pennsylvania for his internship; his knowledge of Dr. Charles Drew; a negative experience in a restaurant just after his admissions interview at Duke; his responses to that negative experience; his preference of the term "liberating an institution" as opposed to "integrating an institution"; and some early patient reactions to him as a physician.

Biographical / historical:

Dr. Wilhelm Delano Meriwether was born in 1943 in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1967, he became the first African-American to graduate from the Duke University School of Medicine. He became a hematologist, and began directing the government's swine flu immunization program for the Public Health Service in 1972. He was also a self-trained champion sprinter, winning the 1971 National AAU championship in the 100-yard dash in nine seconds. He served as a physician in the Bantustan of Gazankulu (now part of South Africa) from 1983 until 1989.

Acquisition information:
Acquired; 7 March 2008.
Processing information:

Processed by Jessica Roseberry, June 2009 Encoded by Dawne Howard Lucas, June 2009

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Duke University Medical Center Library's online catalog.


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Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Wilhelm Delano Meriwether Interview, Duke University Medical Center Archives.