Southern Roots – Medical History, Black History

February 22, 2018

Southern Roots – Medical History, Black History

Meet the Doctor

Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, MD


Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Class of 1891

Historical importance:

First African American woman licensed to practice in Alabama, one of the first campus-based doctors in the state of Alabama.  


Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, MD, earned her Alabama state medical license in 1891. She was examined on 10 subjects by 10 different examiners. Among those examiners were some of the most prominent Alabama doctors of the time, including:

  • Peter Bryce (Superintendent of the Alabama Insane Hospital) tested Dr. Tanner Dillon Johnson on the subject of Medical Jurisprudence
  • Jerome Cochran (state health officer and proponent of the Medical Licensure Act of 1877), on Chemistry
  • George A. Ketchum (Dean of the Medical College of Alabama and co-creator of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama), on Natural History and Diagnosis of Diseases
  • James T. Searcy (Superintendent of the Alabama Insane Hospital after Bryce’s death), on Hygiene
  • John B. Gaston (President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama),on Obstetrical Operations

During her tenure at Tuskegee University, Dr. Tanner Dillon Johnson was responsible for 450 students and 30 faculty members. She maintained a private practice as well. Dr. Tanner Dillon Johnson created a 3-year Nursing program and founded the Lafayette Dispensary before leaving Tuskegee University in 1894.  

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