Nathaniel O. Calloway

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Dr. Nathaniel Oglesby Calloway (October 10, 1907-1979) was the first African American person to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Iowa State College.

Life and Education

Nathaniel O Calloway

Nathaniel O. Calloway's father was a formerly enslaved person. Growing up, Calloway spent time with George Washington Carver. He earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 1930 and then, three years later, earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Iowa State College.

As a graduate student at Iowa State College, Calloway studied synthetic organic chemistry which is a branch of chemistry that focuses on compounds that contain the element carbon. Calloway's PhD adviser was Henry Gilman -- a well-known organic chemistry professor that actively recruited African American chemistry majors from historically black colleges and universities to pursue doctorate degrees at Iowa State. After completing his PhD, Calloway accepted a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry at Fisk University where he successfully researched and published. Calloway entered medical school in 1940 at the University of Illinois in Chicago while simultaneously teaching pharmacology at the University of Chicago. In March 1946, The Chicago Defender reported that "Dr. Calloway completed his medical training at the University of Illinois after he was forced to withdraw from the University of Chicago Medical School because he was a Negro." He completed his internship and residency at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Calloway served as a lieutenant in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II. He also served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Medical School as well as practiced as a physician. In 1946, he reportedly published approximately 17 papers and had four more in process. His research was in chemistry, pharmacology and internal medicine. In 1947, Calloway rose from assistant to senior professor at University of Illinois Medical School. In 1950, he became the Assistant Chief of Medicine at Percy Jones Army Hospital and was promoted to major.

In the late 1950s, he taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Later, the Wisconsin State Medical Examining Board brought charges against him related to a prescription drug scandal involving his medical practice in Madison. In 1958, Dr. Calloway opened a group medical practice in Chicago. He became Chief of the Medical Staff at the Tomah Wisconsin Veterans Administration Hospital in 1963. He then opened a private practice in Madison in 1966. He continued his practice until his death in 1979.


Nathaniel Calloway is credited with helping to establish the Medical Associates Clinic in Chicago. He organized the Chicago chapter of the Urban League. He received heavy criticism for trying to prevent civil rights activism in the Urban League which caused upheaval and dissension within the group.


Citation Information

Article Title: Nathaniel O. Calloway Author: Shaina Destine Website Title: HBCU Connections URL: Publisher: Iowa State University Digital Press Original Publication Date: April 2018