Course Unit | Session 4: The Making of Black Health Professionals: Nurses and Black Hospitals

Session 4: The Making of Black Health Professionals: Nurses and Black Hospitals


This session will explore the narratives of early black nurses and some of the barriers they faced to become health professionals to include: their training, their ability to find work and the nature of their work. This session will also focus on the rise of hospitals and their importance to the training of nurses and physicians, and in delivery of medical care.   

Required Readings:

Darlene Clark Hine. Chapter 1, “Origins of the Black hospital and nurse training school movement: an overview.” In: Black Women in White (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989), pp. 3-25.

Mabel Keaton Staupers. Chapter 1, “Early pioneers – nurses and schools.” In: No Time for Prejudice (New York,NY: Macmillan, 1961), pp. 1-14.

Booker T. Washington. “Training Colored nurses at Tuskegee.” In: Black Women in the Nursing Profession: A Documentary History (Garland Publishing, 1985), pp. 7-10.

Vanessa Northington Gamble. Chapter 1, “Roots of the black hospital reform movement.” In: Making a Place for Ourselves (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 3-34.

Optional readings:

Anna B. Coles. “The Howard University School of Nursing in historical perspective.” In: Black Women in the Nursing Profession: A Documentary History, pp. 29-42.

Daniel Hale Williams. The need of hospitals and training schools for Colored people of the South. Reprint from The National Hospital Record, Detroit, MI, (1900).

Thomas Ward, Jr. Chapter 3, “Postgraduate education,” pp. 59-81; Chapter 6, “Hospital privileges,” pp. 153-170. In: Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South.


  1. Who were some of the early African American nurse leaders and what were their contributions to creating the nursing profession?
  2. Why were Black nursing schools established? Who ran them? 
  3. Did African American nursing students receive similar or the same professional training as white student nurses? 
  4. Did Black nurses face difficulty in obtaining a license to practice nursing?
  5. Why were hospitals important in the training of Black nurses and physicians?  How does this differ from dentists?
  6. Could Black physicians obtain privileges to work in white hospitals?
  7. Could Black medical students and house staff train in white hospitals?
  8. Could Black patients receive medical care in white hospitals? If not, why? 
  9. If African Americans got sick, what was available to them in terms of medical services: physicians, nurses, clinics, hospitals?