Lucy Orintha Oxley was born in 1912 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Her parents, a teacher and a Harvard educated Episcopal minister,
moved to Cincinnati when she was three years old. Oxley wanted to
be a doctor from her earliest years. She excelled in her class work,
graduating from Woodward High School at age sixteen. She applied to
the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, and only was accepted
due to pressure from her father, who was rector of St. Andrews Episcopal
Church in the West End and had some influential friends.
Oxley faced discrimination while at UC in both her social and academic
life. She was called racial slurs, not only her by anatomy partner,
but also by her professors. Her dedication to medicine, however, made
her persevere, and she graduated in 1935, among
the top fifteen in her medical class. She was the first African
American woman to earn a medical degree from UC.
After graduation, Oxley faced discrimination again while trying to
find an internship position and ended up at Freedman’s Hospital
at Howard University because no other institution to which she applied
would accept her. Returning to Cincinnati, she started a family practice
in the mainly African American community of Walnut Hills. Her practice
grew throughout the years, and she was remembered for the children’s
Christmas parties, and the extended “family” she made
of her patients, their children, parents and grandparents. In addition,
she worked on cancer research from 1945 to 1954.
Dr. Oxley received many honors during her career, among them the AMA
Special Achievement Award (1967), and she was the first woman named
Family Physician of the Year by the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians
(1984). She was also listed among the “Who’s Who among
Black Americans.” Oxley co-founded the Ohio Academy of Family
Physicians in 1974, served as a member of the Ohio State Board of
Medical Examiners, and was president of the Woodward High School Alumni
Dr. Lucy Oxley had over 200 patients at the time of her death from
lung cancer in June 1991. She was survived by one daughter and four
To learn more about Dr. Lucy Oxley, consult the following
Educated Pioneers: Black Women at
the University of Cincinnati, 1897-1940
By Delores Thompson and Lyle Koehler in Queen City Heritage,
Vol. 43, No. 4. Winter 1985, pages 21-28.
General f906 H673B
This article discusses how African American women worked to overcome
barriers at the University of Cincinnati from 1897 to 1940. It highlights
the experiences of Jennie Porter, Vera Clement, Helen Elsie Austin
and Lucy Orintha Oxley. View article (PDF)
Mss 1 AT, Interview 16
Dr. Oxley gave this oral interview in August of 1980. Request slip
Sources Used for Biographical Sketch:
Thompson, Delores and Koehler, Lyle. "Educated
Pioneers: Black Women at the University of Cincinnati, 1897-1940,"
Queen City Heritage, Vol. 43, No. 4. Winter 1985, pages
General f906 H673B, Cincinnati History Library and Archives,
Cincinnati Museum Center.
"Come to a Party Rx: Dr. Lucy Oxley,"
Cincinnati Enquirer, August 9, 1980, page C1.
"Lucy Oxley, Family Doctor,"
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 12, 1991