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Guide to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation oral histories 2008.030

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion and Maria Santiago

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

English, Josephine, 2008 April 29

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Josephine English was born in 1920 in Ontario, Virginia. After her mother's early death, English and her siblings were raised by her single father in Englewood, New Jersey. She attended Hunter College as an undergraduate, attained a master's degree in psychology from New York University; and went to medical school at the historically African American Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. Upon graduation in 1949, Dr. English worked as one of New York's first African American female doctors at Harlem Hospital. After relocating to Brooklyn to work and live, Dr. English founded the Women's Health Center, Adelphi Medical Center, and the Paul Robeson Theater in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. Dr. English died in 2011 at the age of ninety-one.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Dr. Josephine English relates stories from her life's history, including tales from her childhood and her career as a doctor. She details her experiences with sexism and racism, encountered during medical school and later, as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist. She describes her achievements as an OB-GYN: Having delivered thousands of babies (including the six children of Malcom X and Betty Shabazz), and founding the Women's Health Center. Dr. English reflects on her community activism, including founding the Paul Robeson Theater, and the Adelphi Medical Center. She openly shares her personal opinions on the practice of medicine today as it relates to women and the indigent; her thoughts on modern social ills such as HIV, gentrification, and displacement; and her views on politics and religion. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting

Subject Names

  • English, Josephine, Dr.
  • Obama, Barack

Subject Organizations

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medicine -x Practice -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Racism
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Societies, etc.
  • Women -- United States -x Social conditions
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government
  • Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) |x Social conditions