black & white photo of man wearing grey suit, a bow tie, and glasses

The Legacy of William Augustus Hinton, MD

While he never worked in Bulfinch (and the buildings where he did work no longer stand), Hinton’s career can tell us a lot about this building’s legacy. Hinton graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1912, and although he was turned down for an internship in MGH’s pathology department, he volunteered there from 1913 to 1915, performing autopsies. (The pathology department had moved out of Bulfinch into its own building in 1896.) Hinton would have been the first known Black physician hired at Mass General if he had not been passed over. After leaving MGH, Hinton became an internationally known expert in diagnosing and treating syphilis and developed a highly accurate and widely adopted test for the disease. As the hospital’s first patient had been admitted for syphilis (and naturally, treated in the Bulfinch), it would have been a moment of historical symmetry if the Hinton test had been developed here. He was a respected professor at Harvard Medical School but was only made a full professor — the first known Black person to be a full professor there — shortly before he retired.