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The African American Health Care Experience in Detroit

Sources of Manuscript and Archival Information

Barthwell, Sidney

Visual Materials, ca. 1930s-1950s. 0.3 linear feet

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American pharmacist and businessman. After receiving his pharmacy degree from Detroit City College in 1931, Barthwell borrowed $500 and opened his first drugstore, within ten years he owned a chain of drugstores/soda fountains (along with a brand of ice cream he invented, Barthwell's Ice Cream) throughout Detroit. Barthwell also performed various leadership roles in the Detroit Pharmacists' Guild. The construction of the Interstate 75 highway through the St. Antoine Street area (where most of Barthwell's stores were located) adversely affected his businesses throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, and he was forced to close his last store in the early 1980s.

Pharmacist Sidney Barthwell

Summary: Black and white photographs of various of Barthwell's drugstores ca. 1930s-1950s, including both exterior and interior views of the stores. Also includes shots of Barthwell himself serving customers and filling prescriptions in his stores along with portrait photographs of Barthwell. There is also a folder of miscellaneous biographical materials on Barthwell and a history of the Detroit Pharmacists' Guild.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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Bell, Mary L

Papers, 1934-1991. 0.66 linear feet and 1 large manuscript folder.

Background: Wife of Dr. Haley Bell, prominent Detroit, Michigan dentist and co-owner of the first independent African American radio stations in Detroit (WHCB-AM and WCHD-FM).

Summary: Clippings, correspondence and photographs related to Haley Bell's career as a dentist in Hamtramck (1924-1960) along with his involvement in establishing WHCB-AM and WCHD-FM, and his participation in establishing three trade schools in Detroit (Motor City Trade School, Ex-Zak Tool and Die Shop, George Porter Dry Cleaning School) and one in New York City (Midway Technical) to enhance the employment opportunities of African Americans in those communities. Also includes materials related to Dr. Bell's involvement in the Detroit area NAACP, the Black-owned Victory Life Insurance Co., and as a member of the Board of Directors of Detroit Memorial Park, and various awards and citations presented to either Haley or Mary Bell. One large photograph of National Dental Association (African American dental association) members at the 1934 convention is included in the large manuscript folder.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Boulevard General Hospital

Photograph (postcard).

Background: In 1932 three African American physicians, Drs. Harold Johnson, Frank Raiford and J. W. Ames, opened Trinity Hospital in Detroit, an institution which trained more Black physicians than any of the other small privately-owned African American hospitals in the city. The hospital was moved to a new, larger location in the early 1960's, becoming a community non-profit institution with the new name Boulevard General. Boulevard General remained in operation until 1974 when it merged with Burton Mercy and Delray hospitals to form the Southwest Detroit Hospital.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Burton, DeWitt T.

Clippings. 1 envelope.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician. With Dr. Chester Ames, Burton opened the Wayne Diagnostic Hospital in 1939. In 1949, the name of the hospital was changed to Burton Mercy Hospital. The hospital eventually merged with Boulevard General and Delray to form the Southwest Detroit Hospital in 1974. Burton was also involved with the Dunbar Memorial Hospital, especially its transformation into the Parkside Hospital in the late 1920s. In 1958, Burton was elected to the Board of Governors of Wayne State University in the first statewide election of that governing body, beginning a long and fruitful tenure as a college administrator.

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Crockett, Ethelyne Jones (1914 - 1978)

Papers, 1967-1978. 2.64 linear feet.

Background: Detroit, Michigan physician specializing in OB-GYN, director of the Maternal and Infant Care Project at Florence Crittenton Hospital, first female and African American elected as President of the American Lung Association (1973).

Summary:

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Detroit Commission on Community Relations, Human Rights Department

Records, 1940-1984. 96 linear feet.

Background: This commission (formerly the "Interracial Committee") conducted various studies during the 1950s of the nature and availability of health care for African Americans in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Summary: Box 82 of this collection contains records (meeting minutes, survey questionnaires, statistical reports, etc.) from 1952 - 1960s related to the Commission's activities in investigating the levels of racial integration in Detroit area hospitals, medical and nursing schools and other health-related institutions. These materials primarily focus upon the racial composition of Detroit area hospital staffs and medical/nursing schools. Also included are reports on the types/nature of health care services provided by some of Detroit's Black-owned private hospitals such as Parkside and Trinity.

Repository: Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.

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Detroit Urban League

Records, 1916-1992. 96 linear feet and one oversize folder.

Background: As one of the most important civil rights organizations in the city, the Detroit Urban League closely monitored the various issues surrounding health care for African Americans and were actively involved in efforts to end segregation in city hospitals, medical staffs, and in the area's medical educational institutions. As such, the League's records represent invaluable insights into the status of health care for African Americans in Detroit during the period from the 1940s to the present.

Summary: Several boxes of this large collection contain materials directly relevant to the history of African American health care in the Detroit area, including many in-depth surveys/studies conducted by the organization to assess the levels of discrimination and segregation present in the city's health care institutions. Boxes 42-43 contain records from the 1950s-early 1960s related to the Detroit Urban League's studies of segregation in the various hospitals which would eventually become part of the Detroit Medical Center. Other issues investigated by the League in these yearly studies included discrimination in local medical and nursing educational programs, employment status (in terms of both hiring and advancement opportunities for African Americans); and racial factors in hospital bed utilization and patient care. Box 69 contains materials related to similar studies conducted throughout the 1960's including a 1967 inquiry into hospital discrimination, a 1962 report entitled "A Review of Equal Opportunity in Eleven Detroit Area Hospitals" and various compilations of statistics related to the treatment of Black patients and the employment status of Black interns, residents, doctors, nurses, etc. Box 75 includes earlier reports investigating discrimination in Detroit medical/hospital services from the period 1946-1950. Relevant visual materials in the collection can be found in Box 87 under the folder title "Health Services, 1940s-1975." Included in this folder are several black and white photographs of Detroit Urban League health service projects such as blood pressure monitoring stations, immunization clinics, etc.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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Dunbar Memorial Hospital

Photographs, ca. 1922, 1930. 2 black and white prints, one slide.

Background: Opened by a group of Black physicians in 1919, Dunbar was the first community non-profit African American hospital in Detroit. The hospital remained at its original location on Frederick Street until the late 1920s when, because of poor facilities and poor acceptance by the public, the hospital was moved to a location near Harper and Grace hospitals and the name was changed to Parkside. Parkside hospital continued to serve the community until 1960 when it was razed because of "city expansion".

Summary:Group photographs of the medical staff, trustees board and nurses standing on the front steps of the hospital. The 1930 photograph includes identifying information of the physicians included in the photo.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Lawson, William Emmett

Papers, 1958-1992. 0.3 linear feet.

Background: Lawson's father, William H. Lawson, was one of the first African American optometrists in the United States, establishing a highly successful practice in Detroit which was later carried on by his son.

Summary: Materials include a detailed biographical resume of William Emmett Lawson with a portrait photograph, photocopies of photographs of William H. Lawson's optometry store in Detroit (ca. 1930s) and brief biographical information collected by Lawson on other Detroit African American health care pioneers such as John Palmer Eagan, the first Black orthodontist in Detroit, Dr. Frank Raiford, one of the founders of Trinity Hospital, and Dr. Howard O. Gray, the first Black urologist in the city.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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Markoe, Rupert

Clippings. 1 envelope.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician. In 1931, Markoe, along with Drs. Robert Greenridge, J.P. Young and Julius Graham, opened Fairview Hospital. This hospital was the first Black-owned institution in the city which was devoted solely to the care of tuberculosis patients and remained open until the early 1960s. Markoe became the first African American physician in Detroit to receive a formal appointment at Herman Keifer Hospital (tuberculosis division).

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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McCauley, Dorothy

Papers, 1961-1989. 1.5 linear feet.

Summary: Box 2 contains materials related to Kirwood General Hospital, an African American-owned hospital in Detroit, established by Dr. Guy O. Saulsberry (see also entry for Saulsberry for more information on Kirwood Hospital) dating from the late 1970s-early 1980s. These materials include civic advisory board minutes from the early 1 980s concerning plans to include Kirwood in a multi-hospital corporation with other Black-owned hospitals such as Southwest General and Sidney A. Sumby Memorial to prevent its closing due to financial difficulties; and copies of the Kirwood Krier, the hospital's newsletter, from the early 1980s.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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Metropolitan Detroit Building Fund

Records, 1948-1971. 8 linear feet.

Background: The Metropolitan Detroit Building Fund (MDBF) was established to administer public funding for various construction projects throughout the city from the late 1940s through the 1960s.

Summary: Series III - Agency Applications contains application materials submitted by several African American-owned hospitals for funding to expand their current facilities or to construct new buildings during this period. These files contain valuable statistical and qualitative data about applicants (Parkside, Sidney A. Sumby, Trinity and Mercy General hospitals) including size of the hospitals, number of patients, physicians, nurses; types of equipment; rosters of medical staff and trustee boards, etc. Box 10 contains several folders of records related to the project to expand Parkside Hospital and establish it as an interracial hospital, including a history of Parkside (formerly Dunbar) Hospital, various reports on the serious lack of adequate health care facilities for African Americans during the 1950s, a transcript of an interview conducted by MDBF of Parkside physicians about the proposal, and documentation on the MBDF's decision to decline funding for the project. Box 15 contains various materials related to the Detroit Medical Center Project (ca. early 1960s). Of special interest here are the various statements issued by the Detroit Medical Society (professional organization of African American Detroit physicians), the Detroit Urban League and the NAACP protesting the use of public funds for a project which included area hospitals which practiced segregationist policies.

Repository: Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.

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Northcross Family.

Papers, 1899-1973. 1 wallet.

Background: David C. Northcross, Sr. and his wife, Daisy Hill Northcross, both physicians, established Mercy General Hospital, the first independent African American-owned hospital in Detroit in 1918. After their demise, the hospital was administered by their son, Dr. David Northcross, Jr. and his wife, Ophelia, until it was closed in 1976.

Summary: The collection is comprised of seven folders of correspondence, records, photographs, clippings and other miscellaneous materials related to the Northcross family and the Mercy General Hospital. The first folder is devoted to the life of Dr. Daisy Hill Northcross (1880-1956) and includes various certificates and awards received during her career, portrait photographs of her as a young and middle-aged woman and various materials related to her achievements as an undergraduate and as a medical student at Loyola University of Chicago (class of 1913). A folder devoted to David C. Northcross (Sr. and Jr.) includes clippings describing Northcross Sr.'s tragic murder, correspondence between him and Daisy while she was in Medical School, campaign materials for Northcross Sr.'s bid for State Senator (3rd district) and clippings related to Northcross Jr.'s life and career. A third folder includes a rich collection of photographs of Mercy General Hospital (at its various locations) and members of the Northcross family (mainly portraits or group photos). Other materials of interest included in the collection are the original articles of incorporation for Mercy General Hospital (1918), a patent obtained by Daisy Northcross for a "sanitary handkerchief kit" she invented (1936) and genealogical information on the family provided by Gloria Northcross (daughter of David Sr. and Daisy).

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Peebles-Meyers, Marjorie

Clippings. 1 envelope.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician. Peebles-Meyers became the first woman resident in medicine at Detroit Receiving Hospital and also the first African American to receive a teaching appointment at Wayne University (now Wayne State University) medical school.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Robinson, Remus (1904-1970)

Papers, 1927-1930. 2 linear feet.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician and community activist. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Michigan (1930), Robinson became only the second African American physician in Detroit to receive advanced training at an AMA-certified hospital, and was also among the first to pass the Specialty Board. Throughout the 1950s and1960s, Robinson participated in and orchestrated several concerted efforts aimed at the racial desegregation of Detroit hospitals, the most significant of which was his drive to expand Parkside Hospital and re-establish it as an interracial hospital. In 1955, Robinson became the first African American member of the Detroit Board of Education, later becoming the Board President. From this period right up to his death, Robinson served continuously on the Board, struggling tirelessly to end racial discrimination in Detroit schools.

Summary: Mainly notes, lab books, and papers related to Robinson's studies at the University of Michigan Medical School. Also includes miscellaneous correspondence pertaining to Robinson's training at St. Louis Hospital #2 and the "Negro Health Week" in St. Louis (early 1930s); along with various materials related to community actives in Detroit in the late 1930s through such organizations as the NAACP and the YWCA.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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Robinson, Remus   (1904-1970)

Papers, 1928-1970. 16 linear feet.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician and community activist. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Michigan (1930), Robinson became only the second African American physician in Detroit to receive advanced training at an AMA-certified hospital, and was also among the first to pass the Specialty Board. Throughout the 1950s and1960s, Robinson participated in and orchestrated several concerted efforts aimed at the racial desegregation of Detroit hospitals, the most significant of which was his drive to expand Parkside Hospital and re-establish it as an interracial hospital. In 1955, Robinson became the first African American member of the Detroit Board of Education, later becoming the Board President. From this period right up to his death, Robinson served continuously on the Board, struggling tirelessly to end racial discrimination in Detroit schools

Summary: Files primarily generated through Robinson's professional activities as a physician, community activist and member of the Detroit Board of Education from the late 1940s up to his death. Boxes 2, 3 and 4 contain various reports related to national African American health care needs, analyses of the largely segregated Detroit health care system and the barriers to medical education for Blacks in local educational institutions, and records related to the Parkside interracial hospital proposal dating from the period 1944 to the mid-1950s. Boxes 6 and 7 include similar materials from the 1960s along with a speech entitled "Racial Integration in the Health Facilities and Services of Detroit" delivered by Robinson to the American Public Health Association (1961), and minutes, correspondence and reports from the Citizens Advisory Committee on Hospitals (Detroit Urban League) which Robinson served on at various times throughout his career. Boxes 15 and 16 contain more reports on studies of the levels of discrimination practiced at various Detroit area hospitals such as Harper, Grace and Mt. Sinai, etc., and miscellaneous newsletters and other documentation produced by the Detroit Medical Society from the period 1965-1970. Photographs (mainly family vacation photos) and other graphical materials such as campaign posters and bumper stickers (for Robinson's candidacy for the Detroit Board of Education) are included in a separate Remus Robinson visual materials collection.

Repository: Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.

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St. Aubin General Hospital

Photograph. 1 black and white print.

Background: Dr. Ossian Sweet, the subject of a famous housing discrimination civil rights case involving Clarence Darrow, opened the St. Aubin General Hospital in Detroit in 1931, which served the African American community until after World War II. During the 1930's, in response to the tuberculosis crisis in the Black community, the hospital was converted for the care of these patients.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Saulsberry, Guy O.

Clippings, ca. 1950s-1970s. 1 envelope.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician. After graduating from Howard Medical School in 1927, Saulsberry moved to Detroit and established private practices at various locations in the city. In 1943, he purchased an old mansion at 301 E. Kirby and established the Kirwood Hospital there with a total of 27 beds. By the mid 1950s he had purchased two more adjoining buildings, increasing the capacity of the complex to 50 beds. In 1958, foreseeing future needs and the impossibility of rendering the required community service through a proprietary institution, Dr. Saulsberry made Kirwood a non-profit community hospital. In 1967, the existing complex was replaced with a modern, well-equipped facility with a capacity of 161 beds. Soon thereafter, Kirwood became the first Detroit African American hospital to receive full accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. At one time the largest employer of Blacks by Blacks in the city of Detroit, Kirwood was forced to close in 1985 when its bed occupancy fell below 50%. The effects of integration, population decline and Medicare/Medicaid are often cited as major reasons for the financial difficulties which forced Kirwood to close.

Summary: Newspaper clippings, including obituaries, chronicling the life and accomplishments of Saulsberry and his efforts as the founder/director of the Kirwood General Hospital.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Toodle, Aaron C. ([1894] - 1959)

Papers, 1924-1966. 1 linear foot and 1 large manuscript folder.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American pharmacist, businessman and civic leader; president of the Wolverine Republican Club, pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church, member, Board of Directors, Detroit Memorial Park (cemetery), foundingmember, Detroit Pharmacists Guild.

Summary: Correspondence, photographs, clippings, biographical material and other miscellaneous materials relating to Toodle's professional, civic and religious activities. Included are biographical clippings/obituaries and awards/citations presented to Toodle, materials related to his various political activities (1924-1952) through the Wolverine Republican Club and posters/pamphlets of his (unsuccessful) campaigns for state senator (3rd district) and the House of Representatives, records related to his pharmacy businesses and a photograph of Toodle in his drug store on Vernor and St. Antoine (1928), various materials related to his involvement in the Bethel A.M.E. Church, the National Pharmaceutical Association, the Detroit Pharmacists Guild, and handwritten essays by Toodle on various social and personal topics. Photographic materials in the collection are comprised mainly of portraits of Toodle at various stages in his life (including a class photo of his graduating Pharmacy class at Howard University (1917), and several photos of dedication ceremonies for the Detroit Memorial Park cemetery.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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Trinity Hospital

Photograph, 1935.

Background: (see Boulevard General Hospital entry)

Summary: One black and white photograph printed in the Booker T. Washington Trade Association Directory, Detroit, Michigan, 1935, pg. 36.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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University of Michigan, Medical School

Records, 1850-1987. 143 linear feet, 18 oversized volumes.

Summary: Primarily materials (reports, correspondence, internal memoranda, etc.) from the 1960s-1970s related to affirmative action and efforts to increase African American student enrollment and faculty representation in the school. Boxes 77, 90 and 91 include affirmative action compliance reports dating from the period 1962-1973 which include such materials as statistical reports of the number of African American students/faculty in the school and the racial composition of all employees of the various departments of the Medical Center; comparisons of minority composition with other prominent medical schools; reports on strategies/methods employed by the school to attract more Black students and faculty such as the Summer Research Fellowships, etc. Box 78 includes correspondence from the Dean's office regarding the integration of the Medical School's faculty (1962-1969), the establishment of an official non-discrimination policy (1967), responses to the Detroit Commission on Hospital Utilization (an organization affiliated with the Detroit Medical Society and the NAACP) and the Detroit Community Relations Committee (Citizen's Advisory Commission on Hospitals) both of whom were highly critical of the slow pace of the school's integration efforts (1965-1970). Also included in this box are several statistical reports on the recruitment, appointment and utilization of African American medical interns and residents (1964-1969), racial proportions of student and house staff and historical data on Black enrollment in the medical school dating back to 1938-1939. Class photographs of various years from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century are included in Box 136.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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University of Michigan, College of Pharmacy

Records, 1868-1989. 40 linear feet, 4 volumes, and 2 outsized folders.

Background: Established as School of Pharmacy, 1876.

Summary: Box 2 contains materials related to the attempts of the Detroit Committee to End Discrimination to make the College of Pharmacy discontinue alleged racial quotas in admissions/hiring in 1948-1949. Box 4 includes records relating to minority recruiting efforts (for both faculty members and students) by the College(1969-1970), its official recognition of a "poor record" in minority training (only two African American students had earned a Ph. D. from the University of Michigan in Pharmacy by 1970), and replies of administrators to members of the Black Action Movement (BAM) in regards to Black enrollment problems in the College of Pharmacy. Group photographs of various pharmacy classes from the 1940s-1960s are included in Box 9.

Repository: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

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Wright, Charles H.

Papers, 1955-1965. 1 wallet.

Background: Detroit, Michigan African American physician specializing in OB-GYN, community/civil rights activist, founder/director of the African Medical Education Fund (Detroit Medical Society), historian concerned with the African American experience in Detroit.

Summary: Mainly correspondence, writings on various topics and other miscellaneous materials related to Wright's activities during the period 1955-1965. Included are materials on Wright's election to the American College of Surgeons (1955), a typed script of a play he wrote entitled "Were You There?", articles written by Wright concerning his involvement in the Selma, Alabama civil rights demonstrations (1965), a "medical mission" to West Africa (1963) and a rough draft of "Negro Physicians in the Community Civil Rights Struggle of Detroit" submitted to the Journal of the National Medical Association for publication in 1963. Correspondence includes communications between Wright and the Detroit Police Department concerning relations between the African Community and the police (ca. 1965), letters of recommendation and replies from several Detroit area hospitals concerning Wright's requests for staff privileges. Also included is a bibliography of Wright's published medical articles.

Repository: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.

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