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Arnold Donowa


Arnold Bennett Donowa

Donowa, Arnold Bennet. (Dana, Ben), b. December 10, 1895, Trinidad; African American; AMB; Graduated from college and then attended Dental school at Harvard University’s Dental School; Married; Dentist; CP 1934; received passport# 463381 on July 20, 1937 which listed his address as Apt. 1-A, 303 West 154th Street, and 1809 7th Avenue, both NYC; Arrived in Spain on August 16, 1937; Served with the Republican Medical Service, Dental Surgeon, Head of Dental Department, Villa Paz; Returned to the US on December 31, 1938 aboard the President Harding; d. 1963 (1964), Trinidad (?).

Source: SACB, RA, ALBA Frederika Martin Box 99.

Photograph: Albin Ragner and Dr. Donowa returning to the US. F. M. collection.



Born in Trinidad on December 10, 1895, Arnold Bennet Donowa earned his D.D.S. from Howard University and did further work at the Royal College of Dental Surgeons in Toronto and at the renowned Forsyth Clinic in Boston, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, where he also served as chief of x-ray. In 1929, Dr. Donowa joined the faculty at Howard University as the first full dean of the school's reorganized College of Dentistry. In 1931 Dr. Donowa resigned from his post at Howard and set up a private oral surgery practice in Harlem. In 1934 Dr. Donowa joined the Communist party. Following the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Donowa helped collect medical supplies for the Ethiopians. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he carried these activities over to the Aid for Spain Campaign. In 1937 Donowa volunteered to join the American Medical Bureau in Spain organized by Dr. Edward Barsky. He was issued a passport on July 20, 1937 and sailed the next day. Dr. Donowa arrived in Spain on August 16 and was slightly wounded the same day during a fascist aerial bombing of the border town of Port Bou. Appointed Head of Oral Surgery at the Villa Paz Hospital, Donowa served in Spain for almost eighteen months. In the United States his role in Spain was widely covered in the black and the mainstream press. Dr. Donowa returned to the United States on the President Harding on December 31, 1938. He resumed his work in Harlem and made many appearances on behalf of the Spanish Republic in the days before its final fall. In subsequent years he continued to be active in New York. He gained notice in 1945 at the forefront of a group of African-American dentists protesting against anti-Semitic quotas at dental schools. In the late 1950s or early 1960s Dr. Donowa retired from his practice and returned to Trinidad, where he died. - Chris Brooks


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Albin Ragner and Dr. Arnold Donowa about the President Harding in December 1938. (ALBA Collection).

Full Database Record

Last Name Donowa
First/Middle Name Arnold
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes