Thomas Boulware

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This article is about the obstetrician. For his son, the head of Brown Service Funeral Homes Company, see Thomas Boulware III.
Thomas Boulware

Thomas Mendenhall Boulware Jr (born September 1, 1903 in Missouri; died June 4, 1991 in Birmingham) was a notable obstetrician and public health advocate.

Boulware was the son of Thomas and Edith May Nickell Boulware of Hannibal, Missouri. He graduated from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, and completed a residency at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and joined the faculty there. Norwood Clinic founder Charles Carraway recruited Boulware to Birmingham in 1929.

While at Hillman, Boulware performed the state's first pregnancy test in 1929, and the first "bikini" Caesarean in 1932. He also oversaw the state's first Obstetrics and Gynecology residency in 1934.

The maternity clinic at the Slossfield Community Center in July 2009

Boulware observed the inadequacies of health care services for indigent patients, and especially for Black residents. He was appalled by conditions at Children’s Home Hospital. He opened Jefferson County's first indigent maternity clinic at Hillman in 1935 and in 1939 opened a 12-bed maternity clinic, built by the Works Progress Administration, at Slossfield Community Center. He joined the University of Alabama School of Medicine's Department of Obstetrics at its founding in 1945 and trained numerous doctors, including Robert Stewart, the first Black board-certified obstetrician in Alabama.

After the Slossfield clinic closed in 1948, Boulware continued to volunteer his services at Holy Family Hospital. Over his career, it is estimated that Boulware delivered more than 21,000 babies and performed nearly 1,500 Caesarean sections, earning the nickname "The Old Stork". He retired from practice in 1977, but continued to consult with other physicians and for the Jefferson County Health Department.

Boulware was married twice, first to the former Mary Irene Hall, with who he had three children, Thomas Jr, Ashby and ZoAnn; and later to the former Betty Rae Miller, with whom he two more children, Walter and Molly. He and his family resided in the former Allen Porter residence on Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook. He later moved to Vestavia Hills.

Boulware died in 1991. His papers are preserved in the "Tom M. Boulware Collection" at UAB Archives.


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