Blacks@Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

John Naustedla Lewis

Liberian-born physician who trained at Dartmouth and returned to Liberia

alumnus image

Dartmouth Medical School M.D.

Class of 1873

1871-72 Harvard Medical School

Born  1845  Whenzohn Liberia

Died 1935 Lower Buchanan Liberia

Quotes from Biographical Sources

One of the few 19th century Liberian doctors, who was born on Liberian soil, trained abroad and returned home to serve was Dr. John Naustedla Lewis. He was born in Whreh-Zenh, Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa County in 1845. He was of the Bassa tribe. His address was listed as Monrovia, Liberia. It was there he received his early education.

He began his medical training in October 1865 with Dr. Charles B. Dunbar of Liberia College as his preceptor. The training lasted two years and six months. Through the ACS, Dr. Lewis went to the United States for further training. He enrolled at Harvard Medical School in September 1871 for just one term, possibly because he wished to gain additional medical training. His name was mentioned in the early Matriculation Book and the Catalogue of Harvard Students of 1871 only. Ultimately, he trained at Dartmouth Medical School and officially graduated there with an M.D. degree in early 1873. Before the graduation ceremony, in November 1872, he had left for home, sailing from New York aboard the bark Jasper along with emigrants, one-third of whom were bound for Arthington, on the St. Paul’s River, and would land at Monrovia. After a voyage lasting forty-one days, he reached Monrovia. The rest of the emigrants were bound for Cape Palmas, from where he wrote to announce their arrival on January 21, 1873.

Finally, he settled and practised successfully in Lower Buchanan for the rest of his life. In late August 1935, he fell ill and died in Lower Buchanan on September 2, 1935. He left behind twelve children - 5 boys and seven girls. His remains were carried to his place of birth, Whreh-Zenh, and there he was buried. Dr. John Naustedla Lewis made history. He was the first Liberian of indigenous or native origin to become a medical doctor.

Njoh, Joseph N. (2018). The Beginning and Growth of Modern Medicine in Liberia & The Founding of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Liberia, p. 77. Nigeria: Panaf Publishing, Inc.

Other source(s)

  1. (Dec 12, 1872). Northern Christian Advocate (Syracuse, NY), p. 396. Retrieved from
  2. Liberian Correspondent. (Jun 1939). Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 31(9), 17.