Eugene T. Hinson was one of six founders of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the oldest African American Greek Letter Fraternity in the United States. The others were Henry Minton, Algernon Jackson, Edwin Howard, Richard Warrick and Robert Jones Abele. Eugene T. Hinson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 20, 1873. He attended the Octavius Catto Public School, which was located on 20th & Lombard Streets. He, like other Fraternity founders, also attended the Institute for Colored Youth which is now Cheyney University. At the Institute, he excelled scholastically and athletically, particularly in baseball.
Following graduation from the Institute in 1891, he taught school in Hartford County, Maryland and then returned to the Institute where he taught in its high school. Teaching, however, was a pathway to his real ambition, the practice of medicine. Eugene Hinson entered the Medical Department at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with his M.D. degree in 1898, with honors. His desire to secure an internship in Philadelphia hospitals, however, was thwarted by racism, and he accepted a position at Douglass Hospital, then a small 20-bed institution that was recently established to provide medical services to Philadelphia’s African American residents.
Dr. Hinson left Douglass Hospital in 1905 and joined the founding group of the Mercy Hospital Corporation. This was a groundbreaking achievement as the Mercy Hospital staff would be the first in the city to be racially integrated. Mercy Hospital opened in February 1907. Dr. Hinson led Mercy’s gynecological department and his considerable skills as a surgeon led to him having a significant practice, with both black and white patients.
Eugene Hinson was active in the Lombard Central Presbyterian Church where he attained the distinction of Leading Elder—the highest post for a layman. As further testament to his varied interests and involvements, he was a member of the National Medical Association (the predominantly black physicians’ professional organization) and the newly racially integrated American Medical Association, the largest professional physician’s organization in the U.S. as well as its constituent societies. Dr. Hinson was a pioneer member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the Alumni Association of the Institute for Colored Youth.
Another example of his foresight and dedication to education especially for African American youth was his donation of some of his family farm property in Oxford, Pennsylvania to help found Lincoln University.
Eugene T. Hinson was married to Marie Hopewell and for most of their lives the couple lived at 1333 South 19th Street in Philadelphia. They had no children. Archon Hinson died at his home in Philadelphia on June 7, 1960 at the age of 86.
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Rodney J. Reed, A Grand Journey: The History of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, 1904-2000 (Atlanta: Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, 2021); Charles H. Wesley, History of Sigma Pi Phi: First of the Negro-American Greek Letter Fraternities (Atlanta: Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, 1993).