I. Clara Webb
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I. Clara Webb


Kirwood and Burton Mercy Hospitals

I. Clara Webb

Mrs. Irma Clara Webb is the daughter of David Enie Wilson and Rhonda Mary Wilson. She was born in McClellanville, South Carolina on May 3, 1925. She graduated from Burke Industrial High School in 1943 and immediately enrolled in the nursing program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mrs. Webb received her nursing diploma from Meharry in 1946. Mrs. Webb arrived in Detroit in 1946 to finish out the last six months of her training with the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA). When she graduated, she accepted her first job with the Detroit Visiting Nurses Association and worked in public health and home care nursing until 1949. That year she returned to Meharry's Pediatric Department to direct a new program funded by the Children's Bureau. It was aimed towards saving the lives of prematurely born babies. She remained there a year and a half and returned to Detroit in 1950 to get married.

Mrs. Webb began working part-time in the evenings at Harper Hospital and eventually left there in 1955 to work one or two nights a week at Burton Mercy Hospital. She gradually increased her time and eventually started working full-time.

She left Burton Mercy in 1973 to establish a substance abuse rehabilitation ward at Kirwood Hospital. She remained at Kirwood until 1986.

Mrs. Webb maintains her membership in the American Nurses Association. She is a member of the Church of All People, Meharry Alumni Association, Friends of Spelman College, and a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She previously was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.).

Tape recorded interview;
Southfield, MI
30 July  1998
audio clip

Discusses the perceptions and attitudes of patients toward black nurses, as well as the racial mix among patients and employees at Harper Hospital

I think if I [had] worked days I might have had different problems. I worked nights and that resulted in a little closer relationship. And number one, the work was hard so you didn’t have time to be involved with a lot of other things except taking care of your patients. So, it wasn’t bad, but then, you know that you were Black…they were trying to mix it as much as they could. At that point, they were trying; they were kind of mixed, but there weren’t many Blacks there…patients. There was a little mingling, but there weren't a whole lot of them. If they were [there they had] a White doctor because see, the Blacks weren't there yet. The Black doctors weren't [allowed] yet. So there were mostly White patients, and so you ran into a lot of that, that some White patient would walk in and say, "I don't want you to give me that medicine.” And all of that, so you ran into a lot of that. So I stayed there for a little while and then I went on to Burton Mercy…They were trying to have just enough [so it couldn’t be said] that they were discriminating. I think at the time I went there were two R.N.’s on the midnight shift, and there were three or four aides that were Black. All the others were White. And on the day shift I think there was one [nurse] that they were trying to move into supervision and so there were a few of us. They were just breaking in where they were getting more in there.


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


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