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National Conference

Summer 2000


Message from Director
Hospitals (Fairview, Haynes Memorial, Bailey, Mt. Lebanon, & SW Detroit)
Post Comments: National Conference: February 26, 1999
African American Health Care Exhibit
Oral History Collection
List of Black-owned and Operated Hospitals
Internet Web Site
Oral History Collection Locations
Farewell Comments

The Archive

Documenting the Historical Experiences of African Americans in Southeastern Michigan with regard to Health Care, the Health Professions, and the Health Sciences


From the Project Director:

It is with a mixture of pride and regret that this project comes to a close with the distribution of our final newsletter. I am proud of what our dedicated research team has been able to accomplish with your help and support. I regret that we are unable to continue our work, but realize that even good things must sometimes come to an end. I cherish the opportunity I have had to meet and work with new people. I look forward to future opportunities to keep in touch, including through the Detroit Satellite Clinic of our Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

We can justifiably celebrate what this project has achieved. Dr. George Myers and Ron Amos have assembled the most comprehensive information available anywhere about African American health care in Southeast Michigan, highlighted by 41 oral histories. In addition, there is a collection of rare photographs, extensive materials that provide historical context, and bibliographies of other resources. Altogether there are approximately 10 linear feet of written material.

And what a history these documents reveal! These oral histories represent the invaluable and irreplaceable permanent testimony of those who experienced and influenced African American health care during the period of legal segregation. It is a story of unsuspected and unsung innovation and entrepreneurship as energetic and talented individuals tried to overcome adversity to provide for the health needs of their community and achieve their own personal goals. It is a story that can inspire young people and deserves to be told. I hope that all of you will be able to explore the details by reading the transcripts at the archives or excerpts that appear on our web page at:

I am profoundly grateful for the confidence that the African American community has shown in our project. Our team was entrusted with information and given access that few others enjoy. The result is a record of a heritage that can be conveyed to future generations. We owe a great debt to our narrators and to the volunteers who devoted many hours to the success of our National Conference at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in February 1999. I want to particularly thank a few of the many individuals who made this project successful. Dr. Watson Young was our earliest and most ardent supporter. He continues to be an inspiration. Dr. Charles H. Wright tirelessly supported this project with his time and advice. He had already written extensively about the history of African American health care and provided the foundation for our work. Without his efforts much that we were able to learn would have already been lost. The help and support of Dr. Lonnie Joe and the Detroit Medical Society was also crucial in our efforts.

This project was conducted with the financial support of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and through funds provided by University of Michigan Medical School Deans Lorris Betz, M.D., and his successor Allen Lichter, M.D. The project has also benefited from the help of many students and community volunteers. Those who served on our staff are listed later in the newsletter. We also appreciate our academic colleagues who served as consultants. I particularly thank Nicholas Steneck, Ph.D., who provided the initial leadership for this project and has continued to provide wise advice and direction. My deepest personal thanks go to my friend and co-investigator, Harold W. "Woody" Neighbors, Ph.D.. Woody is a very productive social scientist with a wealth of experience relevant to this study. Our joint efforts epitomize the advantages of multidisciplinary research. His support for this project never wavered and it would never have succeeded without his guidance.

This project has elicited interest and developed support throughout the University of Michigan. Encouragement has come from the highest officers of the University including especially Lisa Tedesco, Vice President and secretary of the University and Gil Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs. I also want to recognize the contributions of the Historical Center for the Health Sciences. This project has stimulated new collaborations on campus and increased the attention here on issues of African American health care. I fervently hope that the legacy of our project will further enhance communication and cooperation between the University and the community. Much work still is needed to increase the quality of African American health care.

Although our project is formally coming to an end, I believe that this is also only the beginning of its impact. Our entire collection has been accepted in permanent archives throughout Michigan so that it can be available to students, scholars, and the general public. In a unique collaborative arrangement, copies of the historical collection are located at 5 locations in Michigan listed later in this newsletter. Rules for access differ from institution to institution, but the rules are meant to protect the collection and not to inhibit use. All would welcome inquiries and use of the collection. The University of Michigan Medical School will continue to maintain our web site on the internet so that highlights of the collection and links to other resources are available to people throughout the world. Finally, a traveling 20 panel photographic exhibit "Helping Hands: The African American Health Care Experience in Southeastern Michigan" developed by this project has been transferred to the care of the National Center for the Advancement of Blacks in the Health Professions (NCABHP) and will continue to appear at museums, educational institutions and community centers. Through these mechanisms, the work of the project will live on.

The ultimate goal of this project was to provide additional historical documentation needed to understand African American health care and to include this important topic in the history of Southeast Michigan. The past continues to influence our views, relationships, and actions today. Knowing the past will empower us to improve the future. Our materials are not the final word. It is important that the African American community itself continue to tell its own story and interpret its past. We invite everyone to examine, read, study, and add to what we have assembled. It is a small beginning that others will build upon.


Norman L. Foster, M.D.


Black-Owned and Operated Hospitals in the Detroit Metropolitan Area
during the 20th Century

Below are the remaining five of the eighteen hospitals that existed in the Detroit Metropolitan area during the 20th Century. The other hospitals were featured in earlier editions of "The Archive." Please contact George Myers III, Ph.D. at if you have photos or information pertaining to the history of these hospitals.


Fairview Sanatorium (1931-c. 1960), Detroit, Michigan

(Photo not available)

Founders: Robert Greenidge, M.D.; Rupert Markoe, M.D.; J. P. Young, M.D.; Julius Graham, M.D.

Location: 441 E. Ferry


Haynes Memorial Hospital (c. 1950-1967), Detroit, Michigan

(Photo not available)

Founders: Alfred E. Thomas, Sr., M.D. and Alfred E. Thomas, Jr., M.D.

Location: 73 E. Palmer


Bailey General Hospital (c. 1970-1974), Detroit, Michigan

(Photo not available)

Founder: Claud Young, D.O.

Location: E. Ferry


Mount Lebanon Hospital (1950-1968), Detroit, Michigan

(Photo not available)

Founder: Clarence W. Preston, M.D.

Location: 2610 S. 14th Street


Southwest Detroit Hospital, (1974-1991) Detroit, Michigan

Founder: A merger of Boulevard General, Burton Mercy, Trumbull, and Delray Hospitals (Trumbull and Delray were not African American hospitals)

Location: 2401 20th Street (246 beds)

Newly constructed at a cost of $21 million dollars, this 246-bed general hospital opened in 1974 following the merger of four smaller Detroit area hospitals: Boulevard General, Burton Mercy, Delray General, and Trumbull General. It was located in the southwestern part of Detroit at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and 23rd Street. The hospital was established with the goal of maintaining a high-quality community facility. Serving mainly Latino and African Americans, as well as many people with limited financial resources, the hospital succeeded in preserving the tradition of Detroit's African American proprietary hospitals-providing health care for those who did not have adequate access to it. The reign of the African American owned and operated hospitals in Detroit ended in 1991 when the hospital closed its doors due to the "integration" of the health care system, misconceptions, and fiscal pressures.


National Conference

The national conference was held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (CHWMAAH) in Detroit on February 26, 1999. We would like to thank all the volunteers that helped make the conference a success including Nancy Arnold, Alice Brown, Della Goodwin, Liese Hull, Lawler J. Kirk, Helen Lothery, Joe McNair, Dacia Morris, Jennifer Myers, Kristin Myers, Ellen Myers, Ophelia Northcross, and Barbara Williford. Special thanks to our caterer, JoAnne Grear of the Brown Bag and Eatery and guest conference presenters: Diane Brown, Ph.D., Wayne State University; Ken Jamerson, M.D., University of Michigan Medical School; Mary Sano, Ph.D., Columbia University; Nathaniel Wesley, Ph.D, Florida A&M University; Herbert Smitherman, M.D., MPH, Wayne State University; Vence Bohnam, J.D., Michigan State University; Rosalie Young, Ph.D., Wayne State University; and Linda Chatters, Ph.D., University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Health Care Exhibit

The Kellogg African American Health Care Project and several citizens formed a partnership with several institutions in the area to develop this exhibit. The purpose of the exhibit is to provide a historical context for understanding the African American experience with health care, the health professions, and the health sciences in Southeastern Michigan. The exhibit of photographs and medical artifacts were on display at the Detroit Public Library and the University of Michigan Hospital. This exhibit has been donated to the National Center for the Advancement of Blacks in the Health Professions. Please contact Della Goodwin at P.O. Box 21121, Detroit, Michigan 48221, if you are interested in displaying this traveling exhibit.

Oral History Collection Narrators

  1. William G. Anderson, D.O.
  2. Reginald P. Ayala, M.B.A.
  3. Arthur W. Boddie, M.D.
  4. Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell, R.N.
  5. Henry C. Bryant, Jr., M.D.
  6. Alice B. Burton, B.A.
  7. Waldo L. Cain, M.D.
  8. James W. Collins, M.D.
  9. Claude and Vivienne Cooper, Pharm. B.
  10. Gladys B. Dillard, R.N., M.P.H.
  11. George D. Gaines, Jr., M.S.W.
  12. Leon Gant, D.D.S.
  13. Herman Glass, Sr.
  14. Della M. Goodwin, R.N., M.S.N
  15. Joseph B. Harris, D.D.S.
  16. Frank P. Iacobell, M.B.A.
  17. Horace L. Jefferson, D.D.S.
  18. Sidney B. Jenkins, M.D.
  19. Dr. Arthur Johnson
  20. Rachel B. Keith, M.D.
  21. William E. Lawson, O.D.
  22. Josephine H. Love, M.A.
  23. Hayward C. Maben, Jr., M.D.
  24. Berna C. Mason, M.A.
  25. Suesetta T. McCree, O.T.
  26. Dorothy Mottley, R.N.
  27. Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D.
  28. David C. Northcross, Jr., M.D.
  29. Ophelia B. Northcross, R.N.
  30. Frank P. Raiford, III, M.D.
  31. Rev. Garther Roberson, Jr.
  32. Rev. Dr. S. L. Roberson
  33. Elsie Smith
  34. Fannie L. Starks, R.N., M.S.N.
  35. Lionel F. Swan, M.D.
  36. Natalia M. Tanner, M.D.
  37. Oretta Mae Todd, R.N., Ph.D.
  38. I. Clara Webb, R.N.
  39. Charles F. Whitten, M.D.
  40. Charles H. Wright, M.D.
  41. Watson Young, M.D.

Comprehensive Listing of Black-Owned and Operated Hospitals in Metro Detroit

  1. Bailey General Hospital (c. 1970-1974)
  2. Bethesda Hospital (1931-1965)
  3. Boulevard General Hospital (c. 1960-1974)
  4. Burton Mercy Hospital (1949-1974)
  5. Dunbar Memorial Hospital (1918-1927)
  6. Fairview Sanitarium (1931- c. 1960)
  7. Good Samaritan Hospital (1929-1966)
  8. Haynes Memorial Hospital (c. 1950-1967)
  9. Kirwood General Hospital (1943-1974)
  10. Mercy General Hospital (1917-1976)
  11. Mount Lebanon Hospital (1950-1968)
  12. Parkside Hospital (1928-1962)
  13. St. Aubin General Hospital (1931- c. 1947)
  14. Sidney A. Sumby Memorial Hospital (1938-1987)
  15. Southwest Detroit Hospital, Detroit (1974-1991)
  16. Edyth K. Thomas Memorial Hospital (1937-1965)
  17. Trinity Hospital (1934-1962)
  18. Wayne Diagnostic Hospital (1939-1949)

Internet Web Site

Our web site is fully operational and includes information on the project, additional links to other sites, selected excerpts from interviews, and lots more. The address is



Oral History Collection Locations:

The collection can be viewed at your leisure at any of the locations listed below. Please contact each archive regarding hours of operation and specific policies and procedures governing the use of these materials.

1150 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113


M-F (8:30-5:30-Sept. to April); W (6-9-March to April)

Sat (9-12:30)


Wayne State University

5401 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48202


M-Tues. (11:00-6:45); W-F (9:00-4:45)

Burton Historical Collections

5201 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202

313- 833-1480;

Tues.-Sat. (9:30-5:30); W (1:00-9:00)

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit, Michigan 48201-1443

313- 494-5800;

Tues-Sun. (9:30-5:00)

Center for Afroamerican and African Studies

550 East University | 106 West Hall

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092

734 -764-5513;

M-Thurs. (10:00-5:00)

Research Investigators

Norman L. Foster, M.D., Professor, Neurology Dept.

Senior Research Scientist, Institute of Gerontology

University of Michigan Medical School

734-936-9045; email - nlfoster

Harold W. Neighbors, Ph.D., Associate Professor,

Health Behavior and Health Education

University of Michigan School of Public Health

734-647-3674; email -

George Myers III, Ph.D., Survey Research Center

University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research

734-332-9673; email -

Kellogg Project Team

Ron Amosw Camille Harperw Dacia MorriswChristopher Bacchus Amy HawkinswSehnita JoshuawD. LahtiwKristin MyerswKyle PerrywTylitha StewardwWilliam DuBosewVeronica SmithwJohn GivenswSummer Downing

Project Advisors

Vence Bonham, J.D., College of Human Medicine,

Michigan State University

Joel Howell, M.D., Ph.D., Professor,

University of Michigan Medical School

Martin Pernick, Ph.D., Professor,

History Dept., University of Michigan

Richard Candida Smith, Ph.D., Professor,

History Dept., University of Michigan

Nicholas Steneck, Ph.D., Professor

History Dept., University of Michigan

Brian Williams, M.L.S., Associate Archivist,

Bentley Library, University of Michigan


It saddens me that this important historical research project has come to an end. However, I am hoping this endeavor will be an impetus for future projects. This work has been both personally and professionally fulfilling for me. Many of the individuals I met have been an inspiration to me and provide living evidence of how persistence and unity can overcome any barriers. The stories in our collection are very real---reflecting happiness, pain and sorrow, triumph of the human spirit, anger, perseverance, and most of all pride. I would like to thank everyone that has supported us and contributed to the success of the project. Our region not only has played an important role in American history, but continues to play a crucial role as we head into the new millennium. As a community, we must continue this work. It is paramount that the stories continue to be told and the history documented of the people who lived during an important yet difficult time in American history. My heroes and heroines are living legends and I thank God for allowing this work to be part of my life’s accomplishments.


George Myers III, Ph.D.

This newsletter is dedicated to the memory of Reginald P. Ayala, M.B.A. and Lionel F. Swan, M.D. Below is a brief summary of some of their professional accomplishments.

Mr. Reginald P. Ayala graduated from Michigan State University in 1954 with an undergraduate degree in hotel management. He later went on to earned a Masters degree in Business Administration. As the hospital's Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ayala guided Kirwood Hospital through a period of great growth, expanding the facility from 50 to 160 beds. He also guided Kirwood Hospital in its drive to attain full accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. In 1970, Mr. Ayala became involved in the development of the Southwest Detroit Hospital. This hospital was the result of a four-way merger, which included two large, predominantly black institutions and two smaller community hospitals. Certified, financed, and promoted by the Greater Detroit Area Hospital Planning Council, the merger resulted in the construction of the Southwest Detroit Hospital. The hospital opened in 1974 as a community hospital committed to serving the population of Southwest Detroit. Following a steady decline in occupancy, the Southwest Detroit Hospital closed its doors in December, 1991, at which time Mr. Reginald Ayala retired from hospital administration. Mr. Ayala, a man of courage, dignity and faith, died Thursday, Feb. 3, 2000, at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit.


Dr. Lionel F. Swan graduated from Howard University's College of Medicine in 1939. The following year, he completed his internship at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and began working for the Veterans Administration at John Andrews Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. He established a private practice in Birmingham, Alabama when he finished his Armed Services tour in 1943. Dr. Swan relocated to Detroit in 1951 and practiced with Dr. Jerry A. Thornton in River Rouge. Shortly thereafter, he established a private general practice in Detroit. In 1956, Dr. Swan was a co-founder of the first NAACP Fight for Freedom Dinner. Dr. Swan has served as president of the Detroit Medical Society (DMS) and the National Medical Association (NMA). Chief among Dr.

Swan's contributions was his involvement in integrating the staffs of Grace and Harper Hospitals. Dr. Swan, a man whose life can serve as an inspiration to us all died in his Southfield, Michigan home on Wednesday, June 16, 1999.

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Copyright © Kellogg African American Health Care Project, University of Michigan, 2000.
Text and images may not be used without the permission of the Kellogg African American Health Care Project and the University of Michigan.