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Freedmen's Hospital, the predecessor to Howard University Hospital, was established during the Civil War to address the needs of thousands of African Americans who poured into the city seeking freedom. An initiative of the federal government, it was quickly incorporated into Howard University, eventually developing into a first-rate medical campus. The current building on the site is the Seeley G. Mudd Building of the Howard University College of Medicine, containing classrooms and offices.

The hospital for freedmen was established in 1862 by the secretary of war on land bounded by R, S, 12th, and 13th streets, NW. It was officially named Freedmen's Hospital in 1863. Dr. Alexander T. Augusta (1825-1890), a surgeon of the U.S. Army and a major, was placed in charge of the hospital. He was one of eight black doctors then commissioned in the U.S. Army. The hospital's original one-story frame buildings were razed in 1865 for new quarters on Vermont Avenue, NW, between L and M streets. Another move occurred later that same year to Campbell Hospital, located on the northeast corner of Seventh and Boundary (Florida Avenue) streets. In 1869 the hospital moved to property owned by Howard University at the corner of Fifth and W streets, NW. The hospital also became the teaching hospital for the university.

After Dr. Augusta's tenure ended in 1877, the next major physician to head the hospital was Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1858-1931), who led the staff from 1894 to 1898. Dr. Williams was followed by Dr. William A. Warfield, Jr., and then Dr. Charles R. Drew.

In 1908, a more state-of-the-art facility was built on College Street, and a tuberculosis annex was completed on Bryant Street in 1941. Both of those buildings stand today, occupied by Howard University offices and the College of Nursing, respectively.

In 1975, Freedmen's Hospital was renamed Howard University Hospital and moved to Georgia and Florida avenues, NW, the former site of Griffith Stadium.

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