William Augustus Hinton was an American bacteriologist, pathologist and educator. He was the 1st black professor in the history of Harvard University. A pioneer in the field of public health, Hinton developed a test for syphilis which, because of its accuracy, was used by the United States Public Health Service. Hinton was born in Chicago to Augustus Hinton and Maria Clark, both former slaves. After high school, he studied at the University of Kansas before transferring to Harvard University, where he earned a B.S. degree in 1905. Following his graduation, he taught in Tennessee and Oklahoma. During the summers he continued his studies in bacteriology and physiology at the University of Chicago. In 1909, he enrolled in Harvard Medical School. With the aid of two prestigious scholarships he was able to graduate with honors in 1912. Hinton returned to Harvard Medical School in 1918 as an instructor in preventive medicine and hygiene. In 1921 he began teaching bacteriology and immunology--subjects he would teach at Harvard for over 30 years.
Hinton became internationally known as an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis. His serological test for syphilis, which proved to be more accurate than currently accepted tests, was endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1934. Hinton's test also was simple, quick, and unambiguous.
serologist and public health bacteriologist, Hinton was elected a life member of the American Social Science Association. The serology lab at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Laboratory Institute Building was named for him.