Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Lillie Patterson wrote Sure Hands, Strong Heart: The Life of Daniel Hale Williams “to honor black physicians whose contributions to the advancement of modern medicine have often been unheralded or unknown.” Presented in a narrative form with illustrations, this work is the story of Williams, who overcame financial and racial barriers to become a respected surgeon.

The story opens with young Williams assisting his father in the family-owned barbershop in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. The father’s poor health, however, forced him to move to Annapolis, Maryland, with his family. He eventually died from tuberculosis, causing his family to experience their first separation. Young Williams, it was decided, would remain in Annapolis to learn the shoemaker’s trade. Daniel never developed any real interest in shoe repairs, however, and he decided to run away from Annapolis and join his mother in Illinois. Convinced that he could find a better life still elsewhere, he left with his sister for Wisconsin. Williams worked for a successful African-American barber, Harry Anderson, and furthered his education.

After he was graduated from Haire’s Classical Academy in Janesville, Williams apprenticed himself to Dr. Henry Palmer, a successful physician, with whose encouragement he decided to pursue a medical degree at the Chicago Medical College. Insufficient funds, however, loomed as a major obstacle to Williams’ career plans, but his...

(The entire section is 537 words.)