(May 29, 2024) As the only daughter of Howard E. Young, Maryland’s first African American licensed pharmacist, and Estelle Hall Young, a high-profile West Baltimore community activist and suffragist, it is not surprising that N. Louise Young Spencer earned distinctions of her own. Dr. Young became Maryland’s first African American female physician.

After graduation from Howard University School of Medicine in 1930, Dr. Young embarked on a career in obstetrics. She is credited with delivering thousands of Baltimore babies during 50 years in practice. (Cont. below)

Dr. Young's business card business card. it is yellow and contains her address and phone numbers. There are a few random pen marks on the card.

She saw her father as a role model and inspiration: “I admired doctors and wanted to be able to send my prescriptions to my father’s drug store,” she once said. His business, Young’s Pharmacy, was located at Druid Hill Avenue and Hoffman Street in a flourishing West Baltimore neighborhood. Opened in 1900, it was Baltimore’s first African American owned and operated pharmacy.

As a professional African American woman in the 1930s, Young’s career path was not without barriers. After medical school graduation, she had difficulties finding internships. She recalled these times in an interview with the Baltimore Sun: “At Provident, they said there was no place for a woman to sleep, and no place else in Baltimore was accepting Blacks (for medical internships).”

After serving an internship at Freedman’s Hospital, a Howard University affiliate, Dr. Young opened her own practice in offices above her father’s drug store in 1932. She also served as staff physician at the Maryland Training School for Girls from 1933-1940.

Young believed in frank and practical sex education for girls. She became the only African American physician to receive training in birth control at the Baltimore Birth Control Clinic, where she was trained by Dr. Bessie Moses, a Baltimore groundbreaking leader in the birth control movement.

In 1938, Dr. Young opened a Planned Parenthood Clinic, located at 1523 McCulloh Street, one of only three such clinics then staffed entirely by African Americans in the country. Ten years later, Young was granted a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Provident Hospital.  She served as chief from 1950 to 1963. She also worked at several area hospitals and medical facilities, often integrating the staff, until her retirement in 1984.

Of her 50 years in practice, Dr. Young said she never tired of delivering babies and seeing the expression on the faces of new parents. She was remembered for her compassion and for encouraging girls to pursue careers in medicine.

Dr. Young married William E. Spencer in the mid-1970s. She died in 1997 and is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Balck and White Image of Dr. Young sitting at her desk, writing. She is wearing a white jacket

N. Louise Young Spencer
6/8/1907 – 9/22/1997

Image: February 23, 1946. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Dr. Young graduated from the old Colored High School (now Frederick Douglass High School) in 1924 and Howard University in 1927. She received her medical degree from the Howard University School of Medicine in 1930.

Historic photo of a three story corner office with windows in Baltimore which was Dr. Youngs office