banner image for department blog

New Digital Collection Documents Early Years of the Houston Negro Hospital

Department News, Digitization, Houston History Archives

Dedication Ceremony, June 19, 1926

Take a look at our latest collection in the UH Digital Library, featuring items documenting the early years of the Houston Negro Hospital, the first nonprofit hospital for African Americans in Houston. This online collection is a fantastic historic resource, and it incorporates a new Digital Library feature. When you visit the main Houston Negro Hospital collection page, you’ll see an interactive timeline highlighting some of the most important and interesting items in the collection.

Houston Defender article about the dedication of the Nurses Home, March 14, 1931

In the early 1920s, the need for a new African American hospital became clear to the community and its physicians. Though a group of physicians had established the Union-Jeremiah Hospital to serve the community, they quickly realized the need for something larger. Joseph S. Cullinan, a successful oilman who had founded Texas Company (later Texaco), was impressed with the group’s work and donated $80,000 to the group in 1923. On June 19, 1926, the building’s cornerstone was dedicated to Cullinan’s deceased son, an Army officer who led African American soldiers during World War I. Cullinan, who made additional donations to the hospital, was consulted and kept informed about hospital business.

The hospital, located in Houston’s Third Ward, opened to patients on May 14, 1927, and provided a place for African American physicians, who were not allowed to admit patients to the African American wards in Houston’s other hospitals, to practice medicine and train students and nurses. It initially operated on an “insurance” system in which individuals and families paid a yearly subscription which entitled them to treatment. The hospital’s early years were difficult, with problems that included a lack of patients and dissension among and between the hospital’s two boards, one African American and one white.

J.S. Botley photo

J.S. Botley, the first baby born in the hospital. Botley was born on May 21, 1927.

This digital collection, containing nearly one thousand items, includes a copy of the African American board’s resignation letter, a photograph of the first baby born in the hospital, critical editorials from a local African American newspaper, business papers about the construction and care of the building, and more. The timeline features some of these documents, and clicking on any of the items in the timeline will take you directly to the item in the collection, where you can take a closer look.

The items in the Houston Negro Hospital collection come from the Joseph S. Cullinan Papers held in Special Collections. Contact Valerie Prilop, Digital Collections Librarian, for questions about the digital collection. To see the original items or more from that collection, contact the collection curator, Dr. Terry Tomkins-Walsh or visit our Reading Room.

Comments are closed.