Celebrating Black History: Dr. Charles R. Drew

By FPL_Staff

Known as “the father of the blood bank,” Dr. Charles R. Drew was born in Washington, D.C in 1904. He attended McGill University School of Medicine and Columbia University after earning accolades for his athletic contributions at Morgan State College.

Portrait of Dr. Drew courtesy of the National Archives Catalog

During WWII, Dr. Drew’s breakthrough studies in collecting, processing, and storing blood were critical for US and British forces as he led the Blood for Britain Project. His findings and expertise led to the development of mobile blood donation units.  He was appointed Assistant Director of the First American Red Cross Blood Bank in 1941 and the first black person to be appointed examiner for the American Board of Surgery in 1948.

Dr. Drew opposed racial segregation of blood and openly criticized this practice as “unscientific and insulting to African Americans.”  He was a strong advocate for educating the next generation of black surgeons and Howard University’s College of Medicine created the Charles R. Drew Endowed Chair of Surgery in his honor.

For more information about Dr. Drew’s work and legacy, check out these online resources available on our website:

Gale in Context: Biography, opens a new window

Gale OneFile: Health and Medicine, opens a new window


https://catalog.archives.gov/id/559199?objectPage=2, opens a new window

https://www.acs.org/education/whatischemistry/african-americans-in-sciences/charles-richard-drew.html, opens a new window

https://www.cdrewu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/About-Dr-Charles-R-Drew.pdf, opens a new window

https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/spotlight/bg, opens a new window

https://thedig.howard.edu/all-stories/dr-wayne-i-frederick-appointed-charles-r-drew-endowed-chair-surgery, opens a new window