About this Collection

African American surgeon Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) has been called "the father of the blood bank," for his outstanding role in conceiving, organizing, and directing America's first large-scale blood banking program during the early years of World War II. While best known for the blood bank work, Drew devoted much of his career to raising the standards of African American medical education at Howard University, where he trained a generation of outstanding surgeons, and worked to break through the barriers that segregation imposed on black physicians. His premature death in a car accident generated enduring stories that he was a victim of medical segregation, though this was repeatedly proved false.

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University in Washington, DC is the repository for the Charles R. Drew Papers, which range from 1900 to the 1980s. The collection contains photographs, personal and professional correspondence, published articles, lectures, laboratory notebooks, and research notes, along with materials relating to his death and legacy.

As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has made available online, in collaboration with the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, a digitized selection of the Charles R. Drew Papers. This website provides access to the portions of the Charles R. Drew Papers that are now publicly available. Individuals interested in conducting research using the full collection of Charles R. Drew Papers should contact the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

This Profile is designed to introduce you to the various phases of Drew's medical career and professional life. Narrative sections available from the navigation bar under "The Story" focus on Drew's life and major contributions to blood banking and surgical education.

Researchers can search the digitized items using the Search box or browse all Documents and Visuals in the collection by selecting "Collection Items" from the navigation bar.