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Frederick, Rivers (1874-1956) | Amistad Research Center

Name: Frederick, Rivers (1874-1956)

Historical Note:

Rivers Frederick, son of George S. Frederick and Armintine Dalcourt Frederick, was born May 22, 1874, in New Roads, Louisiana. After his early education, Frederick completed the English course at New Orleans University on May 24, 1893. Frederick received his M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1897.

Frederick began his professional career as an intern at the John B. Murphy Clinic in Chicago from 1897-1899. Following his private practice in New Orleans from 1901-1904, Frederick became the surgeon-in-chief at a small government hospital in El Roi Tan, Spanish Honduras. Frederick later contracted malaria during this stint. He then returned to New Orleans where he became the Assistant Professor of Surgery at Flint Medical School from 1904-1908. During this time Frederick married his first wife, Adele (nee Bouis) on May 20, 1906. A year later on June 18, Frederick's first child, Pearl, was born.

In 1908, Frederick obtained the position of Chief Surgeon at Sarah Goodridge Hospital in New Orleans, which he maintained until 1913. During this time, Frederick's second child, Lolita, was born on June 27, 1911. From 1913-1932, Frederick was a surgeon for Southern Pacific Railway in New Orleans. In 1923, Frederick became one of the founders of the black-owned Louisiana Life Insurance Company (later known as the Universal Life Insurance Company). Frederick served as a board member, secretary, vice-president, and president. He later became the principal stockholder.

Frederick became the Chief of Surgery at the Flint-Goodridge Hospital of Dillard University from 1932-1950. He married his second wife, Eloise (nee Clarke), and had his third child, Rivers Jr., on Nov 10, 1939. In 1934, he was elected first vice-president of the National Medical Association. From 1935-1953, Frederick became the instructor in surgery at the Flint-Goodridge summer postgraduate courses. He also led efforts that resulted in the formation of the New Orleans Insurance Executive Council, an organization of black-owned industrial life insurance firms.

On November 2, 1947, the Flint-Goodridge testimonial service honored Frederick for fifty years of medical practice. The same year he became a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1948, he was appointed to the New Orleans Citizens' Advisory Committee for Shakespeare Park Playground. The following year Frederick became a member of the International College of Surgeons. He also received a National Urban League Certificate of Recognition, and was appointed to the New Orleans Mayor's Negro Advisory Board.

In 1950, Frederick stepped down as Chief of Surgery at Flint-Goodridge to become its Consultant in Surgery. The same year he became Associate Medical Advisor to Selective Service Local Board No. 39 (Orleans Parish). In 1951, Frederick received the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Social Action Achievement Award. The summer of that year he was named a Corresponding Fellow of the Italian Societa Tosco-Umbra di Churgia, as well as being appointed to the Louisiana Governor's Advisory Council on Civil Defense.

During October 1951, Frederick was appointed by Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long to sit on a special committee investigating the Orleans Parish Levee Board. Frederick also won the first Dillard University Alumni Achievement Award, and was also awarded in February 1952 by the Flint-Goodridge Hospital.

The following year Frederick was appointed to the New Orleans Mayor's Citizens' Committee to Study Housing Rehabilitation. In 1954, Frederick received a National Medical Association Distinguished Service Award and was honored by the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP for over half a century of service to the Community. Dr. Rivers Frederick died on September 2, 1954.

Sources: Rivers Frederick papers;  A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. I, pp. 320-321.

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