Philadelphia’s Black Hospitals
This week the Bates Center staff started preparing for an exhibit on Black hospitals and nurse training schools in Philadelphia. Throughout the majority of the 20th century people of color who wanted to pursue careers in healthcare had extremely limited opportunities due to segregation and racism. At the same time, Black Philadelphians also had difficulty accessing healthcare for the same reasons. Leaders in Philadelphia’s late 19th and early 20th century Black community thought one answer to these related problems would be to take healthcare into their own hands, giving rise to an era of hospitals run by Black leaders. These institutions were open to everyone, regardless of race. In order to staff these hospitals and provide opportunity, these institutions also opened nurse training schools. These centers of Black medical and nursing expertise, education, and care served complex and important roles in the Black community in Philadelphia and beyond, as many Black nurses travelled from southern states in search of better job opportunities in institutions like these in northern cities throughout the first half of the 20th century.