Dr. Madison Briscoe
Madison Spencer Briscoe was born on March 4, 1904 in Winchester, Virginia. The "bug man", as he would later be known as, graduated from Storer College in 1924 and returned as a professor in 1930. Briscoe was fundamental in designing the pre-medical curriculum at Storer in 1934. In 1941 he left Storer to teach at Howard University and begin his PhD but quickly joined the war effort, answering the call for experts in parasitology and tropical diseases. Briscoe earned the rank of captain in the US Army Sanitary Corps and continued his service as a commanding officer of the 16th Malaria Survey Detachment of the US Army in Liberia. His research there contributed to keeping troops healthy during World War II, when quinine - the most common malaria treatment - was in short supply. After the war Dr. Briscoe completed his PhD in parasitology in 1950 and bought a house in Harpers Ferry in 1951. His research in insect vectors, leprosy, and other parasitic diseases took him to Egypt and Central America, but he remained involved in life at Storer College, hosting students in his home and filing a (failed) civil suit in 1959 to save the school. Dr. Briscoe led a distinguished career at Howard University, becoming a full professor in 1962. He died in 1995 at the age of 91.
Dr. Madison Briscoe
Class of 1924
Dr. Madison Briscoe (Class of 1924, standing left) went on to serve on the faculty of Howard University and distinguished himself for his research in the field of parasitology. Dr. Briscoe served for a time on the Storer faculty earlier in his career. He and his wife Marie Byers Briscoe bought a beautiful 19th-century home in Harpers Ferry on Washington St. in the 1950s, while he was teaching at Howard. (Source: “To Emancipate the Mind and Soul”).
Briscoe Africa House was built circa 1880. Its second empire architecture features three and a half stories, three front bays, and a gabled peak over a mansard roof. Today, the house honors the spirit of Dr. Briscoe by blending traditional stylings of the early 1900's with artwork gathered from around the globe.
Briscoe: Man of Science and Substance
Briscoe: Man of Science and Substance is a short historical documentary that tells the story of African American scientist, Dr. Madison Spencer Briscoe. Born in 1904, less than 50 years after the abolition of slavery, Dr. Briscoe overcame great adversity to make important contributions to the fields of parasitology and entomology and advance the sciences at Storer College, one of West Virginia’s first colleges for African Americans.
Ms. Emma Dacol produced the award-winning documentary on Dr. Briscoe. Here’s the link and password to the film:
It also can be viewed on kweliTV, a streaming service dedicated to celebrating black stories.