Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream: The History of Homer G. Phillips Hospital

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Nothing about Homer G. Phillips Hospital came easily. Built to serve St. Louis's rapidly expanding African-American population, the grand new hospital opened its doors in 1937, toward the end of the Great Depression, amid a national period of institutional segregation and strong racial prejudice. When the beautiful, up-to-date hospital opened, it attracted more black residents than any other such program in the United States. Patients also flocked to the hospital, as did nursing students who found there excellent training, ready employment, and a boost into the middle class.

But the 1960s and 1970s brought less need for all-black hospitals, as faculty, residents, and patients were increasingly welcome in the many newly integrated institutions. Ever tightening city budgets meant increasingly less money for the hospital, and in 1979, despite protests from the African-American community, HGPH closed. Candace O'Connor draws upon contemporary newspaper articles, institutional records, and her own oral history project to tell the first full history of the Homer G. Phillips Hospital-as well as brings new facts and insights into the life and mysterious murder (still an unsolved case) of the hospital's namesake, a pioneering Black attorney and civil rights activist who spearheaded the efforts to raise funds to build the sorely needed medical facility to the Ville.

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University of Missouri Press
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