WOMEN OF DISTINCTION: REMARKABLE IN WORKS AND INVINCABLE IN CHARACTER 1892 by LAWSON ANDREW SCRUGGS M.D. Editing and additional new Forward, providing context and the significance of the rich contributions and the impact of Dr. Scruggs’ life and work. by Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, Ph.D. Grand-daughter of Author, Lawson Andrew Scruggs, M.D.
Paternal-Grandfather to my brother, two sisters and me, Dr. Lawson Andrew Scruggs was a remarkable man, especially for his era. He would be remarkable even in this era. Born into slavery in Bedford, Virginia, on January 15, 1857, he published Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character in 1893, when he was still in his 40’s. That was more than a century before today. He was very much, indeed, ahead of his time, but still he lived in the historic “gender disempowerment” period of this nation, as is clearly evident in his focus on the importance of women and their development and creativity. He would easily be a certified card-carrying feminist consciousness-raiser today, in this 21st Century. Dr. Scruggs’ passionate racial pride, as well as his determination to identify role models for young African Americans, women and men, challenged a “Renaissance Man” of great intellectual power and a compelling sense of history. He was my grandfather who died before I was born, but whose legacy has significantly impacted my life. It is breath-taking to realize that his book, Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Work and Invincible in Character , was written during such a punitive period in our social and racial odyssey. Women were not yet able to vote, could not participate in many institutional processes in this American democracy nor for that matter in most of the rest of the world and frequently, had no identity independent of their husbands or fathers. Yet, Dr. Scruggs’ book celebrates the important contributions of African American women of that era, both to black and white cultures. That he was a fully engaged, practicing physician, a full-time college and university professor, and a man socialized in a largely chauvinistic, discriminatory environment, makes his progressive pre-occupations all the more laudatory. My grandfather’s own “Preface” in his book is barren of extensive detail about his life and his accomplishments. I believe that this is the case largely because when Women of Distinction was published, Grandfather was 36 years old, just embarking upon his productive medical career and practice and entering a new marriage following the death of his first wife. His son (my own father) Leonard Andrew Scruggs, Sr. named in part after the Leonard School of Medicine was connected with Shaw University one of the important “Historically Black Colleges and Universities.“ Grandfather was Senior Professor of Physiology and Pharmacy on Shaw’s faculty, but actually he was the real Dean. (In that century and also into the next - most well-educated and credential-holding African Americans were denied full agency in the leadership of institutions where they would be superior in rank to white staff and faculty also employed there. This certainly was true in the Deep South of North Carolina, where the Leonard Medical School of Medicine was…..and where the entire faulty were white men in the 19th and also into the 20th Centuries. Grandfather Scruggs sublimated his prolifically energetic creativity with his work on a next book where he intended to share his impressions of the Chicago World’s Fair which he had attended. That book was never completed. However, we have his diary of that experience. It reinforces his constant awe of the human potential and creativity of women. His contemporaneous notes reflect his positive bias in support of women’s station and actualization. Grandfather Scruggs wrote in his diary: “I next entered the Women’s Building which, of course, was fine, neatly arranged, and well filled and all in good shape. But, of course, I was not so much interested in the special exhibits, other than proud to see women do well. The fancy work… etc… was fine, indeed” Grandfather Scruggs went on in his life to construct and create treatment protocols for patients admitted to the first African American Tuberculosis Sanitarium in the United States, named “Pickford Sanitarium for Negroes” located in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Although Dr. Scruggs’ personal life is somewhat opaque to us today, we know from official State of North Carolina records of medical facilities and personnel that his first wife was named Lucy Johnson Scruggs and that she is profiled in Women of Distinction . She died in 1892 at the age of 28. His second wife, and our father’s mother, was Clara Jane Burroughs, whom Grandfather married in 1895. She also died less than two years later, at age 27. When Dr. Scruggs died in North Carolina in 1914, his medical practice had flourished, but the Southern Pines Sanitarium, unfortunately but probably predictably in that era in the South, had been destroyed by fire. And, characteristic of many idealists and intellectuals who were African American, his material legacy was but a trunk full of “accounts receivable” notations from his patients, who also had been desperately ill and in need of medical treatment but were equally desperately impecunious. My father’s primary inheritance was the fond memory of a protected childhood and a keen sense of having lived in the aura of a man of great talent and accomplishment. Leonard Andrew Scruggs, Sr, also inherited a rich intellect which took him through graduation from Ohio State University and into the Mortuary Science field and his own business in St. Louis, Missouri and Niagara Falls, New York. He later became a Master Electrical Engineer in Buffalo, New York. Copies of the original, beautiful book, Women of Distinction remain available, but are closely guarded. The book is precious, rare and beautiful to look at, to hold and to read. Musical in verbal celebration, the articulate author speaks in the rhythm of his era, making commitment to human dignity magical and precious. It chronicles the innovations, agency, ingenuity and leadership of 91 African American women whose stewardship of humanitarian interventions as a mandate, was as observed and recorded on many occasions in numerous communities across the United States. There were, a few years ago, copies catalogued in the United States LIBRARY OF CONGRESS in Washington, D.C…but when I gained access to the stacks last year, both of these secured copies had been stolen …from scholars and public lovers of rare books and of social and intellectual justice. Some original copies yet remain in the libraries of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) and in a few private book collections. For that reason, Dr. Lawson Andrew Scruggs’ Family is now republishing Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character , in collaboration with Path Press, Inc. in Evanston, Illinois. Our inspiration is appropriately articulated in the poetic prose of Dr. Lawson Andrew Scruggs himself, our gifted Grandfather: “… If in such a short time of greatly abridged citizenship our women have accomplished so much, and if many of these heroines mentioned did develop such giant intellects during those dark days of our history, may we not be encouraged to make more diligent, protracted efforts in this brighter age?” He was one of the very first three African Americans ever licensed to practice medicine in the State of North Carolina. His spirit endures. Re-publication in 2020: © Grandchildren of Lawson Andrew Scruggs M D: Leonard Andrew Scruggs Jr.; Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich; Harriet A. Scruggs; and Roslyn E. Scruggs.
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WOMEN OF DISTINCTION: REMARKABLE IN WORKS AND INVINCABLE IN CHARACTER 1892 by LAWSON ANDREW SCRUGGS M.D. Editing and additional new Forward, providing context and the significance of the rich contributions and the impact of Dr. Scruggs’ life and work. by Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, Ph.D. Grand-daughter of Author, Lawson Andrew Scruggs, M.D.
Paternal-Grandfather to my brother, two sisters and me, Dr. Lawson Andrew Scruggs was a remarkable man, especially for his era. He would be remarkable even in this era. Born into slavery in Bedford, Virginia, on January 15, 1857, he published Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character in 1893, when he was still in his 40’s. That was more than a century before today. He was very much, indeed, ahead of his time, but still he lived in the historic “gender disempowerment” period of this nation, as is clearly evident in his focus on the importance of women and their development and creativity. He would easily be a certified card-carrying feminist consciousness-raiser today, in this 21st Century. Dr. Scruggs’ passionate racial pride, as well as his determination to identify role models for young African Americans, women and men, challenged a “Renaissance Man” of great intellectual power and a compelling sense of history. He was my grandfather who died before I was born, but whose legacy has significantly impacted my life. It is breath-taking to realize that his book, Women of Distinction : Remarkable in Work and Invincible in Character, was written during such a punitive period in our social and racial odyssey. Women were not yet able to vote, could not participate in many institutional processes in this American democracy nor for that matter in most of the rest of the world and frequently, had no identity independent of their husbands or fathers. Yet, Dr. Scruggs’ book celebrates the important contributions of African American women of that era, both to black and white cultures. That he was a fully engaged, practicing physician, a full-time college and university professor, and a man socialized in a largely chauvinistic, discriminatory environment, makes his progressive pre-occupations all the more laudatory. My grandfather’s own “Preface” in his book is barren of extensive detail about his life and his accomplishments. I believe that this is the case largely because when Women of Distinction was published, Grandfather was 36 years old, just embarking upon his productive medical career and practice and entering a new marriage following the death of his first wife. His son (my own father) Leonard Andrew Scruggs, Sr. named in part after the Leonard School of Medicine was connected with Shaw University one of the important “Historically Black Colleges and Universities.“ Grandfather was Senior Professor of Physiology and Pharmacy on Shaw’s faculty, but actually he was the real Dean. (In that century and also into the next - most well-educated and credential- holding African Americans were denied full agency in the leadership of institutions where they would be superior in rank to white staff and faculty also employed there. This certainly was true in the Deep South of North Carolina, where the Leonard Medical School of Medicine was…..and where the entire faulty were white men in the 19th and also into the 20th Centuries. Grandfather Scruggs sublimated his prolifically energetic creativity with his work on a next book where he intended to share his impressions of the Chicago World’s Fair which he had attended. That book was never completed. However, we have his diary of that experience. It reinforces his constant awe of the human potential and creativity of women. His contemporaneous notes reflect his positive bias in support of women’s station and actualization. Grandfather Scruggs wrote in his diary: “I next entered the Women’s Building which, of course, was fine, neatly arranged, and well filled and all in good shape. But, of course, I was not so much interested in the special exhibits, other than proud to see women do well. The fancy work… etc… was fine, indeed” Grandfather Scruggs went on in his life to construct and create treatment protocols for patients admitted to the first African American Tuberculosis Sanitarium in the United States, named “Pickford Sanitarium for Negroes” located in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Although Dr. Scruggs’ personal life is somewhat opaque to us today, we know from official State of North Carolina records of medical facilities and personnel that his first wife was named Lucy Johnson Scruggs and that she is profiled in Women of Distinction . She died in 1892 at the age of 28. His second wife, and our father’s mother, was Clara Jane Burroughs, whom Grandfather married in 1895. She also died less than two years later, at age 27. When Dr. Scruggs died in North Carolina in 1914, his medical practice had flourished, but the Southern Pines Sanitarium, unfortunately but probably predictably in that era in the South, had been destroyed by fire. And, characteristic of many idealists and intellectuals who were African American, his material legacy was but a trunk full of “accounts receivable” notations from his patients, who also had been desperately ill and in need of medical treatment but were equally desperately impecunious. My father’s primary inheritance was the fond memory of a protected childhood and a keen sense of having lived in the aura of a man of great talent and accomplishment. Leonard Andrew Scruggs, Sr, also inherited a rich intellect which took him through graduation from Ohio State University and into the Mortuary Science field and his own business in St. Louis, Missouri and Niagara Falls, New York. He later became a Master Electrical Engineer in Buffalo, New York. Copies of the original, beautiful book, Women of Distinction remain available, but are closely guarded. The book is precious, rare and beautiful to look at, to hold and to read. Musical in verbal celebration, the articulate author speaks in the rhythm of his era, making commitment to human dignity magical and precious. It chronicles the innovations, agency, ingenuity and leadership of 91 African American women whose stewardship of humanitarian interventions as a mandate, was as observed and recorded on many occasions in numerous communities across the United States. There were, a few years ago, copies catalogued in the United States LIBRARY OF COMGRESS in Washington, D.C…but when I gained access to the stacks last year, both of these secured copies had been stolen …from scholars and public lovers of rare books and of social and intellectual justice. Some original copies yet remain in the libraries of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) and in a few private book collections. For that reason, Dr. Lawson Andrew Scruggs’ Family is now republishing Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character , in collaboration with Path Press, Inc. in Evanston, Illinois. Our inspiration is appropriately articulated in the poetic prose of Dr. Lawson Andrew Scruggs himself, our gifted Grandfather: “… If in such a short time of greatly abridged citizenship our women have accomplished so much, and if many of these heroines mentioned did develop such giant intellects during those dark days of our history, may we not be encouraged to make more diligent, protracted efforts in this brighter age?” He was one of the very first three African Americans ever licensed to practice medicine in the State of North Carolina. His spirit endures. Re-publication in 2020: © Grandchildren of Lawson Andrew Scruggs M D: Leonard Andrew Scruggs Jr.; Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich; Harriet A. Scruggs; and Roslyn E. Scruggs.
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