The Deep Roots of Racial Inequalities in Access to Care: Digitizing, Mapping, and Analyzing the 1906 American Medical Association Directory

Ben Chrisinger, Tufts University, University of Oxford

Since 1906, the American Medical Association (AMA) has regularly published a Directory of all qualified physicians in the US, by city and county. Between 1906-1934, AMA insisted on printing “colored” alongside the names of all Black/African American doctors. This racist practise inadvertently gives us an unparalleled look at where Black doctors worked and therefore where inequalities in access to care began. Extracting data from these archival sources (available as PDFs) is difficult to automate, and resource intensive (time and cost) to accurately extract by hand. Therefore, as a proof-of-concept, a subset of the 1906 Directory including all states in the South was used in this project. To build a digital database of physician records (name, city, county, state, whether classified as Black/African American, and medical school name), double-entry data extraction was performed. Data cleaning and validation procedures were performed to ensure the accuracy of place names (matching with historical Census records) and racial classifications. Joined with historical Census data, these records also illustrate where significant inequalities existed in the access to Black doctors, based on the racial breakdown of local populations. Geospatial visualisations were generated to illustrate the distribution of these inequalities, and exploratory descriptive analyses were performed to explore other patterns, such as distance to major population centers, medical schools accepting Black students, and other structural factors. Overall, this paper demonstrates a variety of applications for this unique historical dataset, which will be made freely available for public use, and describes future plans for digitization of the remaining Directory years.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 141. Racism in Theory and Practice