Title Page
 Signature page
 Table of Contents
 When freedom does not come: Florida,...
 What it means to be a woman: The...
 Woman's work: The life of Jerenia...
 Caring for a community: The first...

Group Title: Creating a meaningful existence : the originas of black female heathcare professionals in Florida
Title: Creating a meaningful existence
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AM00000307/00001
 Material Information
Title: Creating a meaningful existence the origins of black female healthcare professionals in Florida, 1880-1930
Physical Description: viii, 133 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Spencer, Esther
Publication Date: 2006
Subject: African Americans in medicine -- History -- Florida -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
African American nurses -- History -- Florida -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
African American physicians -- History -- Florida -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
African Americans in medicine -- History -- Florida -- 20th century   ( lcsh )
African American nurses -- History -- Florida -- 20th century   ( lcsh )
African American physicians -- History -- Florida -- 20th century   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.) -- Florida A&M University, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 124-133).
Statement of Responsibility: by Esther Spencer.
General Note: Typescript.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: AM00000307
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Holding Location: Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 77561841

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Signature page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
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    When freedom does not come: Florida, 1880-1930
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    What it means to be a woman: The life of Dr. Effie Carrie Mitchell Hampton
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    Woman's work: The life of Jerenia Reid, R.N.
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    Caring for a community: The first ten years of the Boylan nurse training program and Brewster hospital
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Full Text







A Thesis submitted to the Department of Graduate Studies and Research in partial

fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Social Science with a

concentration in History.

Summer Semester, 2006

The members of the Committee approve the thesis, entitled, Creating A Meaningful
Existence: The Origins of Black Female Healthcare Professionals in Florida, 1880-1930
by Esther Spencer defended on August 2, 2006.

David H. kson, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor Directing Thesis

2. -
Titus Brown, Ph. D.
Committee Member

Serena Roberts, Ph. D.
Committee Member


David IL,4ackson, Jr., Ph.D., Chair,
Department o 7 ~a tical Science

Dr. Turner, Ph.D., Interim Dean,
College of Arts and Science

Chanta Haywood, h.., Dean
School of Graduat Studies and Research



I dedicate this thesis to the witch doctors and medicine women who have carried

on and passed down the tradition of healing to women who came after them. Although

this book does not give an account of their history, I acknowledge that women who

practiced in the healthcare profession in the early twentieth century continued in their


I dedicate this thesis to all the black women who worked in the healthcare

profession whose stories will never be told. I thank you for all that you have done.

Although I do not know your names and all of your individual life histories, I hope that

the stories I have told in this work will unfold more research, so your descendents will

know what kind of women they came from. If that is too much to dream of, I hope

people will at least realize that black women have contributed greatly to the healing of

the black community.

I also dedicate this thesis to the many black women who are currently working in

the medical profession and to all those who dream of such goals. If you do not forget

what your people have lived through, you will always remember all that you can do.

Thank you black women for your dedication.


Dedication.......................................................... iv

Table of Contents.................................................... ................... v

Acknowledgem ents.................................................... ................ vi

A bstract........................................ ..... ................. ......... ..... ..... viii

Introduction..................................... ........................................1

Chapter 1: When Freedom Does Not Come:

Florida, 1880-1930.......................................................9

Chapter 2: What It Means To Be A Woman:

The Life of Dr. Effie Carrie Mitchell Hampton ..........................29

Chapter 3: Woman's Work:

The Life of Jerenia Reid, R.N........ ................................64

Chapter 4: Caring For A Community:

The First Ten Years Of The Boylan Nurse

Training Program and Brewster Hospital..............................91

Conclusion........... ......... ............... ...... ......... .... .. ............... ... 112

Appendix ........................... ........ ....... ............ ........... ... ... ....123

Bibliography................................................... ..... ....... ......... ...124


My God, My Goddess, thank you for guiding me onto this path and revealing to

me the truth that lies in history. I now understand that teaching can be a revolutionary

tactic I can use to bring about change.

Ancestors, those who have lived on this earth many years ago and to those such as

my father who have recently joined the heavenly realms, thank you for protecting me

and ensuring that I survived this journey. Without you, I would not have been able to

complete this initiation process that allowed me to see that I could create a meaningful


My family, thank you for your tangible support and encouragement. Thank you

for letting this year, which has been filled with great loss, bring us together instead of

tearing us apart. Specifically to my mother, thank you for being an example of strength.

Dr. David H. Jackson, Jr., thank you for guiding me with my work and helping

me to articulate and express clearly my ideas for this thesis. Your constant questioning

and challenging of my ideas and writing helped develop me as a scholar. I appreciate

your dedication and commitment. Thank you for taking on the responsibility of chairing

my committee.

Dr. Canter Brown, Jr., thank you for getting me started on this path. You not only

showed me that I too could be an historian, you also made me aware of the great

accomplishments of black women, and you helped me share those accomplishments with

the world.

Dr. Titus Brown, Dr. Keith Simmonds, and Dr. Serena Roberts, thank you for

taking on the challenge of assisting in the direction of my thesis and helping me to reach

my full potential.

Junius English, Goliath Davis, IV, and Bruce Strouble, Jr., thank you for allowing

me to cry on your shoulders and for the numerous hugs and laugh sessions we shared. I

will never forget this experience.

In addition, I want to thank all the research centers I used when researching and

writing this thesis. They included the Florida A&M University Samuel H. Coleman

Library, the Florida State University Strozier Library, the University of North Florida

Library, the Jacksonville Public Library, the Jacksonville Historical Society, the Library

of Congress, the National Archives, the Moorland Spingarn Research Center and

Archives at Howard University, the Florida State Library, the Howard University Science

Library, the Leon County Courthouse, the Ocala County Courthouse, and the Ocala

Black Archives and Museum.

To everyone else who has supported me on this journey. Thank you.


Black women have contributed greatly to the healthcare needs of the United States.

Women have acted in the capacity of nurses and doctors, caring for and healing people.

The many black women currently in the nursing profession and the increase in black

women physicians speak to this fact. Unfortunately, the lack of work on the subject

shows that most scholars are not aware of this reality. This study, which focuses on the

state of Florida, tells the story of the first black female physician, the first black female

registered nurse, and the first nurse training program for blacks in the state. This study

hopes to show that these black female healthcare pioneers and the healthcare institution

played an integral role in the growth and welfare of black citizens and thus the

development of the United States. Their work needs to be recognized because they took

on a responsibility in a hostile environment created and sustained by the United States,

but ultimately overcame obstacles nonetheless and made a lasting impact on the people

and time in which they lived.


Sister Hold On

...I know you got struggles sister
Right up to your eye
Just wishing the pressures could ease
Signal a little relief in your life
But every time you turn around
Its another barrier to break down
Just hold on sister
Sister hold on...
----------------Lillian Allen1

Poet and political activist Lillian Allen expresses eloquently the battles that

African-American women face in her poem, Sister Hold On. This poem resonates with

this thesis because although Allen does not name the barriers preventing black women

from walking in the path they desire for themselves, those obstacles exist under the

organized and institutionalized system of oppression. The oppression that African-

American women face today, also constricted and defined the lives of African-American

women in the early nineteenth century. These women had to hold on in a world that

threw a heavy burden at them and forced them to carry the load. Black women had to

bear degradation based on their race and gender; they lived in a world that never allowed

them to forget they held the lowest place in society. By being African-Americans, black

women stood as part of a people white society considered less than humans and at one

point reduced to chattel, property, or commodities to be bought and sold. As women,

they knelt to the laws of patriarchal society that put them at the disposal of men. The

women in this study who pioneered healthcare in Florida had to live under those

' Lillian Allen, Selected Poems ofLillian Allen: Women Do This Everyday, Toronto: Women's Press, 1993,

constraints. Although, they had no hope of escaping the chains in which society held

them, they understood that even though they lived under traumatic conditions, they still

had the opportunity to create a meaningful existence.2

The lives African-American women wanted to create for themselves stemmed

from the black community's definition of womanhood, based on Victorian ideals.

Victorians believed a woman belonged in the home and she had the responsibility of

caring for her husband and children; she upheld the moral standards of the community.

Middle-class African-Americans expected black women to aspire to these standards and

taught them that their success at respectability would be beneficial to the race.3

Although the African-American community as a whole wanted women to live by

strict standards, the black aristocracy especially endorsed rules of etiquette for the women

of their class. The black elite viewed themselves as part of the black community, but

they also believed their social standing separated them from the majority of African-

Americans in the country. Their wealth, education, ancestral lineage, occupation, and

color placed them in a position of privilege in relation to other African-Americans, so

they believed they had to fully embody Victorian notions of proper conduct. They acted

2 Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America, New
York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984, 6-8; Stephanie J. Shaw, What A Woman Ought To Be
And To Do, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996, 5-7; Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, Afro-
American Women of the South and the Advancement of the Race, 1895-1925, Knoxville: The University of
Tennessee Press, 1989, 9.
3 Willard B. Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920, Indianapolis: Indiana University
Press, 1990, 184, 191, 208; Giddings, When and Where I Enter, 85-89; Deborah Gray White, Too Heavy A
Load. Black Women in Defense of Themselves 1894-1994, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999,
45-47; David H. Jackson, Jr., A Chief Lieutenant of the Tuskegee Machine: Charles Banks ofMississippi,
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002, 16-17; Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black
Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina
Press, 1996, 138-143.

as though their position made them responsible for combating negative stereotypes of

African-Americans and affirming the civilized nature of black people.4

Although not all African-Americans believed adhering to codes of conduct would

allow them entrance into mainstream society, many blacks saw education as the road

towards equality. The black community encouraged people to attend schools because it

believed education would grant more opportunities on an individual basis and, on a large

scale, improve the conditions of its race. The black elite promoted education and made

sure they educated their children regardless of gender. Many female members of the

black aristocracy attained higher education. Whether women used their education to

secure employment or chose to stay at home, education served as a symbol of high

society. Women who decided to join the professional world usually entered the

education field. However, by the 1880s, women began to enter the healthcare profession

as registered nurses and medical doctors. They played a vital role in changing the face of

healthcare and making it accessible to the black community. For this major

accomplishment, their work in this field warrants closer study.5

Black women in the medical profession is a subject that has not received the

attention it merits in the academic arena. Although African-American women have

contributed greatly to the medical profession, for the most part, their work has gone

unrecognized, especially if one looks at the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Fortunately, a few scholars have addressed perspectives of the role black women have

4 Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color, 183, 186-189; Shaw, What A Woman Ought To Be And To Do, 14-16;
Jackson, A ChiefLieutenant, 13-20; Gaines, Uplifting the Race, 78-79.
5 Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color, 33-34, 37; Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South, 6-7;
Shaw, What A Woman Ought To Be And To Do, 1, 14-15; Jackson, A Chief Lieutenant, 14-15; Gaines,
Uplifting the Race, 138-143.

played in the history ofhealthcare. In Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and

Cooperation in the Nursing Profession 1890-1950, author Darlene Clark Hine discusses

the evolution of the nursing profession with respect to racism and prejudice. Mary

Elizabeth Carnegie highlights pioneers in nursing and nursing programs with her work

The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing, 1854-1984. Mabel Keaton Staupers, who

contributes to the discourse on nursing by discussing how black nurses organized,

addresses the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) and the role it

played in integrating the nursing profession in her work No Time for Prejudice: A Story

of the Integration of Negroes in Nursing in the United States published in 1961.6

More current study conducted by Althea T. Davis gives credit to three nursing

pioneers. The book entitled Early Black American Leaders in Nursing: Architects for

Integration and Equality, focuses on the careers of Mary Eliza Mahoney, Minerva

Franklin, and Adah Belle Thoms. Scholars have also discussed the schools and hospitals

that provided training to black medical professionals. Writer Adah Belle Thoms gives

credit to the black nurse training programs and hospitals, as well as the leaders of those

institutions, in her work Pathfinders: A History of the Progress of Colored Graduate

Nurses. Author Vanessa N. Gamble focuses on the development of black hospitals in

Making a Place for Ourselves: The Black Hospital Movement, 1920-1945. On the other

hand, writer B. J. Session deals specifically with one black hospital in her book A Charge

6 Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession,
1890-1950, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989; Mabel Keaton Staupers, No Time For Prejudice:
A Story of the Integration of Negroes in Nursing in the United States, New York: The Macmillan Company,
1961; Mary Elizabeth Carnegie, The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing, 1854-1984, Philadelphia: J. B.
Liippincott Company, 1986.

to Keep: Brewster Hospital, Brewster Methodist Hospital, Brewster Hospital School of

Nursing, Brewster-Duval School ofNursing.7

While the works on black female nurses have been few, books dedicated solely to

black female physicians are even more rare. However, a few books on women in the

medical profession give brief mention to black female physicians. A Biographical

Dictionary of Women Healers: Midwives, Nurses, and Physicians by Laurie Scrivener

and J. Suzanne Barnes is one such book. Mary Roth Walsh, who deals with the

challenges that women pioneers in medicine faced in her book, "Doctors Wanted: No

Women Need Apply": Sexual Barriers in the Medical Profession, 1835-1975, succinctly

points out race as an obstacle preventing black women from entering the profession.

Also, in the book Women in Medical Education: An Anthology of Experience, Leah J.

Dickstein, concisely comments on the effect of discrimination on black women who

entered the medical field. Fortunately, more recent books on black physicians such as

Wilbur H. Watson's Against the Odds: Blacks in the Profession of Medicine in the United

States and Thomas J. Ward's Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, give some insight

into the experience of black female physicians. While these books show that African-

American female physicians did exist in the early twentieth century, there remains a need

for detailed and in-depth work on the experiences of black female doctors. Overall, a

study needs to be conducted that gives accounts of black females of the early twentieth

7 Adah Belle Thorns, Pathfinders: A History of the Progress of Colored Graduate Nurses, New York: Kay
Printing House, Inc., 1929; Althea T. Davis, Early Black American Leaders in Nursing: Architects for
Integration and Equality, Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1999; Vanessa N. Gamble, Making a
Place for Ourselves, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995; B. J. Sessions, A Charge to Keep:
Brewster Hospital, Brewster Methodist Hospital, Brewster Hospital School ofNursing, Brewster-Duval
School of Nursing, Brewster-Duval School of Nursing, Jacksonville: Brewster and Community Nurses
Alumni Association, 1996.

century who embarked on a journey that made them pioneers in the healthcare profession.

This study hopes to begin to fill that gap.8

This work covers the time frame of the 1880s to the 1930s. The 1880s marks the

beginning of a period in American history when the progress African-Americans had

made during Reconstruction had been greatly eradicated by whites, so that white society

could usher in a new period of enslavement. Whites put into effect laws that

counteracted the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. Decrees known as Jim Crow laws

segregated African-Americans from larger society, taking away the rights they should

have had as citizens of the country. By 1896, the Supreme Court supported these

changes with the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which made the practice of "separate-but-

equal" legal. This state of affairs lasted for many decades and did not end until the Civil

Rights Movement of the 1960s. However, the 1930s marks the end of this study because

the Great Depression brought on a new period in the United States that dramatically

changed the life of all citizens.9

This study is multifaceted in its purpose. To begin, this work aims to show that

African-American women have made great contributions to healthcare by detailing the

work that the women in this study did for their communities. It also places black females

8 Wilbur H. Watson, Against the Odds: Blacks in the Profession of Medicine in the United States, New
Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999; Thomas J. Ward, Jr., Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South,
Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2003; Laurie Scrivener and J. Suzanne Barnes, A
Biographical Dictionary of Women Healers: Midwives, Nurses, and Physicians, Westport: Oryx Press,
2002; Mary Roth Walsh, "Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply ": Sexual Barriers in the Medical
Profession, 1835-1975, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.
9 Paul Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in
Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, Berkeley: University of California Press,
2005, 61-66; H. D. Price, The Negro and Southern Politics: A Chapter of Florida History, Westport:
Greenwood Press, 1973, 107-108; Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877, New York:
Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1990, 249-253; Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine and Stanley Harrold,
The African-American Odyssey, Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2000, 146-147.

in the healthcare profession in the context of the black middle-class in order to show how

important the black aristocracy was to the African-American community because they

provided services to black people when, for the most part, the larger society refused to.

In addition, by giving an in-depth look at the lives of these specific African-American

women, this study hopes that there will be a clearer understanding of the experiences of

other black female healthcare professionals, showing the magnitude of African-American

women's contributions to the United States.

This thesis is divided into four main parts. The first chapter provides detail on the

setting of Florida and the country during the time period. The following three chapters

are written in chronological order, each dealing with the development of an area of

healthcare in Florida. The second chapter of the thesis focuses on the life of Dr. Effie

Carrie Mitchell Hampton, the first African-American female physician in Florida. It

covers the history of her life, focusing on the way she maintained the Victorian standard

of womanhood while working in an occupation dominated by men. The third chapter of

the thesis centers on Jerenia Reid, the first African-American registered nurse in Florida.

That chapter deals with the way she embodied the middle-class ideal of woman's

responsibility to the upliftment of her race. The fourth chapter highlights the Boylan

Nurse Training Program and Brewster Hospital, the first nurse training program and

medical institution in Florida for African-Americans. Ultimately, that chapter shows the

significance of black institutions to the growth and development of the African-American


The majority of sources that laid the foundation for this work were Florida

newspapers, the Tuskegee Institute News Clippings File, military records from the

National Archives, federal documents from the Library of Congress, courthouse records

and collections from Morland-Spingam Research Center, Florida State Archives, and the

Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. These sources allowed the writer to

reconstruct the lives of the women studied in this work.

Interpretations and conclusions stemmed from research the writer uncovered and

research done by many other scholars. This study expounds on ideas developed by

intellectuals who have written substantially on black women in nursing, the black

aristocracy, women in medicine, and black life during the Jim Crow South. It focuses on

members of the black upper-class, so the writer was able to secure records that gave

revelations on the type of lives they led. Unfortunately, this study does not paint a

complete picture because it admittedly neglects the lives of black women in the lower-

class who attempted to become doctors and nurses, and also excludes black women in

healthcare who lived and worked before the 1880s. The writer assumes that these women

existed, and hopes one day to be able to tell their stories.

Limitations occurred based on available resources. This study does not purport to

give great detail on the specifics of the daily duties of these women dealing with their

professions or personal lives because records such as diaries and personal letters were not

found. In addition, this study does not intend to paint a broad picture and claim all black

women in healthcare had the same experiences or even achieved the same successes as

the women investigated here. However, it does intend to show that African-American

women in Florida did have successes in a time and space that heralded them inferior and

that, in itself, is worthy of attention.

When Freedom Does Not Come: Florida, 1880-1930

The period of the 1880s to the 1930s in Florida sets the stage for the lives of the

African-American women who pioneered healthcare in the state. Their experiences

stemmed from the way in which the world existed and their position in that configuration

of time and space. During this period, as in the time that came before and the time that

would come soon after, African-Americans lived in the way society allowed. They

existed as lower-class citizens even though the institution of slavery no longer existed.

Overall, this period marked a time of continued degradation even within the confines of a

prosperous nation, a time when African-Americans had to deal with the reality that

freedom did not release them from bondage.

At the end of Reconstruction, Florida slowly returned to a state similar to the one

that existed under the institution of slavery. White Floridians used economics, politics,

and social constraints to reduce blacks to second-class citizenship, a status that

minimized their freedom. Whites used legislative measures to take away rights that

blacks had acquired with the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. Newly

created laws prohibited blacks convicted of crimes such as stealing from participating in

the electoral process while whites convicted of violent acts never lost their voting rights.

Specifically, in the Florida Constitution of 1884, politicians passed a law that made the

payment of a poll tax a prerequisite for voting. Poor blacks could not afford the tax;

however, the law did not affect poor whites because grandfather clauses stated that men

whose grandfathers voted were eligible to vote. A few years later, in 1888, public

officials put in place the multiple ballot law that made mandatory separate ballots and

separate ballot boxes for each principal officer, and separate polling places for national

and state officials. White southerners passed this law knowing that illiterate and barely

literate blacks would have difficulties understanding the complicated system.l

Besides legislative measures, whites in Florida used subversive tactics to prevent

African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. Public officials placed polling

places far from African-American communities, and set up roadblocks to stop blacks who

did attempt to vote. In many instances, polling officers would change the location of

polling places a few minutes before voting time without informing the black community.

Whites went as far as stuffing ballot boxes and discarding African-Americans' ballots to

ensure they would be victorious. Fraud became so widespread that blacks appearing in

court to testify against election fraud became a common occurrence. Trials occurred in

many counties including Madison, Jefferson, and Leon County. These legal and illegal

measures made certain that blacks would not have a say in the political arena. Although

many blacks exercised their political rights even in the face of violence, they could not

overcome white power. Without a say in the political sphere, African-Americans lived a

life dominated and dictated by white society.2

' Charlton W. Tebeau and William Marina, A History of Florida: Third Edition, Coral Gables: University
of Miami Press, 1999, 271-275; John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss, From Slavery to Freedom: A
History ofAfrican-Americans, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, 277, 281-283, 286-291; Jerrell H.
Shofner, Nor Is It Over Yet: Florida in the Era ofReconstruction, 1863-1877, Gainesville: The University
Presses of Florida, 1974, 343-344; Abel A. Bartley, Keeping the Faith: Race, Politics and Social
Development in Jacksonville, Florida, 1940-1970, Westport: Greenwood Press, 1965, 1, 6-8; Joe M.
Richardson, Negro in the Reconstruction ofFlorida, Tallahassee: Florida State University, 1965, 359-383;
William W. Davis, Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, Gainesville: University of Florida Press,
1964, 713-714; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 22-25; Hine, Hine, and Harrold, African-American Odyssey,
312-313; Foner, A Short History ofReconstruction, 249-253.
2 Tebeau and Marina, A History of Florida, 271-275; Franklin and Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 277,
281-283, 286-291; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 312-313; Foner, A Short History of

Without any political representation, African-Americans in Florida did not have a

say in the legal process and contended with a legal system set up to ensure white

supremacy. Law enforcement officers were white and this reality existed in the

courtroom with white judges and juries. In most instances, African-Americans hired

white attorneys to defend them because they feared further discrimination if they used

black lawyers. Since blacks had no one to speak for them, they suffered enormous

consequences. The state charged African-Americans with more crimes than whites.

Blacks had a higher conviction rate and received harsher sentences than whites who

committed the same crimes. In addition, whites charged with crimes against African-

Americans most often did not face trial and, if they did, the all-whites juries often times

found them not guilty.3

Just as white Floridians passed laws to take away political rights from African-

Americans, they also implemented laws to control the economic possibilities of blacks.

These laws called black codes stated where African-Americans could go and what they

could do. For instance, blacks could not sell products at night nor could they quit their

jobs. When African-Americans broke these laws, they went to prison and their

exploitation continued to take place.4

Reconstruction, 249-253; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 37-38, 41, 45-46; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 1, 6-
3 Ray Stannard Baker, Following the Color Line: An Account ofNegro Citizenship in the American
Democracy, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1908, 49-50; Leon F. Litwack, Trouble in Mind:
Black Southerners in the Age ofJim Crow, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, 246-254; Hine, Hine and
Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 328-329; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 63-64.
4 Jacqueline Jones, The Dispossessed. America's Underclasses from the Civil War to the Present, New
York: Basic Books, 1992, 148-155; Jacqueline Jones, A Social History of the Laboring Classes: From
Colonial Times to the Present, Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1999, 128-129; Hine, Hine and Harrold,
African-American Odyssey, 272, 329.

The penal system, set up to house criminals until they paid their debts to society,

became the system used to further oppress African-Americans. In Florida, public officials

could easily send blacks to prison for any reason; however, they had difficulty

imprisoning whites for anything other than severe crimes. African-Americans faced

mistreatment by white guards and horrid living conditions. Unfortunately, black

prisoners fared worse when southern politicians created the convict-lease system. This

system started in Mississippi in the late 1860s and by 1876 Florida utilized it. Convict

leasing involved the hiring out of prisoners by the state to private companies. These

companies kept the convicts in their custody, while under contract. The companies paid

the state for the use of the prisoner's labor, and housed and fed the convicts; however,

convicts did not receive any monetary compensation. Prisoners performed work from

building railroads to clearing swamps and cutting timber. For example, the turpentine

trade benefited greatly from this system. Due to the dangerous nature of the job,

companies had difficulty securing workers, so companies turned to convicts to fill their

labor need.5

By 1910, Florida had the highest incarceration rate of adults and juveniles in the

South. Officials arrested people and sentenced them to long sentences in order to supply

a labor force for the convict-lease programs. Men who committed misdemeanors such as

petty theft or disturbing the peace spent more time in prison than called for by their

crime. In general, law officers arrested blacks for crimes that they did and did not

commit. For instance, in the city of Tallahassee, when public officials signed a contract to

5 David M. Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal ofJim Crow Justice, New
York: Free Press, 1996, 55-57, 72; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 270-275; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 53-
54; Jones, Dispossessed, 148-155; Jones, A Social History of the Laboring Classes, 128-129; Baker,
Following the Color Line, 50; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African American Odyssey, 329.

lease their prisoners to the Putnam Lumber Company, a Wisconsin-based turpentine and

resin company, vagrancy arrests increased by almost 800 percent in the seven months that

followed the business deal. Although most convicts were black men in their teens and

early twenties, women did not escape this injurious system, and worst of all, children also

fell victim.6

While African-Americans worked under this system, they lived under horrific

conditions. They worked long hours while shackled and beaten. They sustained many

injuries and their living conditions made them susceptible to disease because they did not

receive adequate healthcare. This system of peonage contributed to the deaths of

hundreds of men, women, and children. By 1915, all states that used the system banned

it accept for Florida and Alabama. Florida did not outlaw the convict-lease system until


Atrocities such as the convict-lease system affected blacks at an alarming rate

because the racist society which labeled blacks as inferior beings, condoned it. This same

society called for segregation so that blacks would not forget that as second-class

citizens, they held a place in society lower than and inferior to whites. In order to ensure

that blacks understood this reality, spaces designated for blacks were inferior to those for

whites. Whites wanted to prevent social equality because they believed it would lead to

6 Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery, 55-57, 72; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 270-275; Hine, Hine and Harrold,
African-American Odyssey, 329; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 53-54; Jones, A Social History of the
Laboring Classes, 128-129; Jones, Dispossessed, 148-155; Baker, Following the Color Line, 50-52.
7 Ibid.

amalgamation and miscegenation and, therefore, the extermination of the white race.

Whites used segregation as a social policy to preserve their race.8

Before segregation became a legal mandate, Florida practiced it freely. By the

1880s, schools, churches, and other private institutions had separate spaces for blacks and

whites. Many hospitals and hotels also followed this policy. Streetcars became an arena

for numerous confrontations because in this space, money determined whether blacks

would sit in first-class or second-class seating. Whites objected to this practice believing

that as second-class citizens, blacks should not have access to luxury seating. By the late

1880s, the government ended the debate by passing segregation laws in transportation,

and in 1887 Florida passed such a law. For the most part, officials in Florida began

implementing segregation laws in the late 1890s when more blacks began to acquire

middle-class status. Whites felt threatened by the economic progress of blacks because it

challenged their belief that African-Americans could not attain the same level of

prosperity as whites. As blacks defied these views, they fought against white


The United States showed that it sanctioned segregation when the Supreme Court

ruled that separate did not connote inferior or unequal with the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling

in 1896. With this ruling, the federal government condoned the way in which whites

8 Baker, Following the Color Line, 28-32; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 314-315;
Foner, A Short History ofReconstruction, 249-250; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 62-66; Franklin and
Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 290-291; David H. Jackson, Jr., "Booker T Washington Tour of the
Sunshine State, March 1912" in Go Sound the Trumpet! Selections in Florida's African American History,
ed. by David H. Jackson, Jr., and Canter Brown, Jr., Tampa: University of Tampa Press, 2005, 176-178.
9 Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 314-315; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 229-233;
Franklin and Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 290-291; Baker, Following the Color Line, 30-34; Ortiz,
Emancipation Betrayed, 54-56.

treated African-Americans and opened the door for even more abuse and violence.

Segregation soon became a codified way of life in Florida. Water fountains, restrooms,

theatres, and other public spaces became segregated. In addition, swimming pools, parks,

and other recreational facilities barred blacks. Unlike what the Supreme Court proposed,

separate always meant inferior because black spaces never equaled those of whites.

Segregation became an effective way to disprove social equality and a way to enforce and

exercise white supremacy.10

As historian Paul Ortiz stated, "The system of Jim Crow did not rest upon the

consent of the governed; instead, it relied on everyday acts of brutality to maintain itself."

Since Jim Crow consisted of laws and social codes that blacks and whites were supposed

to follow, whites used violence to ensure that African Americans obeyed white rule.

Since the legal system did not protect African-Americans, whites attacked blacks at will,

,using lynching in many instances. Throughout the country, whites lynched an average of

two to three people every week from 1889 to 1932. Most often, lynch mobs targeted

black men, but black women and children and some whites did not escape this form of

violence. Overall, between 1882 and 1930, Florida had the highest lynching rate with

79.8 people lynched for every 100,000 people. Unfortunately, Florida embodied the

spirit of violence. When whites accused blacks of crimes, in many instances, the deep

woods became the courtroom where whites acted as judge and jury, assessing blacks with

guilty verdicts that resulted in death sentences. For the most part, the state of Florida did

10 Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 314-315; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 233-237;
Baker, Following the Color Line, 28-39; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 54-56, 61-66.

not publicly denounce lynching because society deemed it necessary to keep the safety of

white society and to protect white womanhood."

The idea of protecting white womanhood acted as an integral part of defending

white supremacy. Since white women bore children, they gave birth to the next

generation of whites. Therefore, in order to ensure the continuation of the white race,

white men needed to keep black men away from white women. In everyday life,

protecting white womanhood translated to the rule that black men could not make eye

contact with white women and had to remove their hats in the presence of white women.

Actions seen as disrespectful many times resulted in lynching. Lynch mobs killed men

accused of whistling at white women just as easily as they killed men accused of killing

white women. Since white society feared amalgamation and miscegenation, they went

after black men who they believed pursued or offended their women.12

Lynchings became rituals for the white community. Sometimes women and

children watched and participated in the violence and it became a social gathering.

Victims went through horrific ordeals before death because torture played an integral part

in the ritual. After black bodies hung lifeless from trees or at the end of ropes tied to

cars, spectators would sometimes cut off body parts to take as souvenirs. White men

elevated their manhood by being protectors and defenders of their community while

" Frank Shay, Judge Lynch: His First Hundred Years, Montclair: Patterson Smith, 1969, 127-130;
Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 284-286; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 65-66; Hine, Hine and Harrold,
African-American Odyssey, 318-320, 328-329; Baker, Following the Color Line, 49-50,175-178;
Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South, 2; Giddings, When and Where IEnter, 26-31;
Mary Jane Brown, Eradicating This Evil: Women in the American Anti-Lynching Movement, 1892-1940,
New York: Garland, Publishing, Inc, 2000, 26-27.
12 Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 64-66; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 318-320;
Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 301-306; Brown, Eradicating this Evil, 21-28; Giddings, When and Where I
Enter, 34-36.

deflating black men's masculinity by showing black men that they could not protect

themselves or their community.13

Although the white community claimed they lynched blacks to protect white

women, most often violence occurred to keep blacks in their "place" and to prevent them

from progressing economically. This occurred in January of 1923 in Rosewood, a small

town located in Central Florida in western Levy County. Whites assaulted and killed

members of the black community and ransacked, looted, and burned down black homes,

churches, and other public institutions. The incident began with the accusation of rape by

a white woman and after the white mob lynched the accused, the white community went

after every black man, woman, and child, killing those they could find and forcing the

rest to flee from their homes. Blacks lived in fear of whites and, after they realized they

could not defeat white supremacy, many decided to migrate North in hopes of new


Due to the racist environment that existed, blacks in Florida had few opportunities

available to them that allowed for economic mobility. The majority of African-

Americans lived in rural areas and worked in the agricultural industry. The counties of

Leon, Columbia, and Duval had large black populations, followed by Alachua, Jefferson,

Jackson, Marion, Escambia, and Gadsden. A few blacks in places such as Live Oak and

Tallahassee took advantage of the opportunity to rent land outright and operated farms

13 Brown, Eradicating this Evil, 22-25; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 318-320; Shay,
Judge Lynch, 95-98; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 287-288.
14 Hine, Hine Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 319; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 307; David H. Jackson,
Jr., Forum, Florida Historical Quarterly 79, Winter 2001, 379-382; David R. Colbum, "Rosewood and
America in the Early Twentieth Century," Florida Historical Quarterly 76, fall 1997, 175-176, 190-192;
Maxine Jones, "The Rosewood Massacre and the Women Who Survived It," Florida Historical Quarterly
76, fall 1997, 193-197.

independently, while other blacks worked together in farming cooperatives. Some blacks

even owned farmland. Black farmers who owned orange groves in the city of Ocala

illustrate this point.15

Unfortunately, the majority of blacks did not have the privilege of owning land

but worked as laborers for white farmers. Blacks, which included men, women, and

children, worked under the sharecropping system. Landowners provided laborers with

land, seeds, equipment, and animals at high interest rates. Laborers also rented housing

from these white farmers and shopped at their stores, buying necessities at high prices on

a credit system. When harvesting season came, after laborers paid off their debt, they

made a small profit, broke even, or remained in debt. If their crops failed, they

experienced an even greater loss, so during off seasons African-Americans sought or

secured other employment in order to survive. Sharecropping created a cycle of poverty

from which laborers found it difficult to escape. It continued the exploitation of black

labor that had become part of the economic structure of the United States.16

Sharecropping became the main form of labor that existed in Florida, but as the

country moved away from slavery, blacks also worked as landowners, cash renters, and

share renters. African-Americans wanted to move away from sharecropping and toward

land ownership because it meant more economic stability. However, this opportunity did

not exist for most African-Americans. Black sharecroppers and landowners shared a

15 Gainesville Florida Sentinel, July 17, 1891; Cleveland Gazette, October 10, 1885; Tebeau and Marina, A
History ofFlorida, 274-275; Richardson, Negro in the Reconstruction, 114-115, 129-130.
16 Richardson, Negro in the Reconstruction, 114-115, 129-130, Jones, Dispossessed, 74-75; Jones, A Social
History of the Laboring Classes, 118-120; Baker, Following the Color Line, 74-76; Hine, Hine and
Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 324-326; Tebeau and Marina, A History of Florida, 249-250; Franklin
and Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 307-308; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 121-122; Shofner, Nor Is It
Over, 125.

similar number of assets, while black renters had the same standard of living as white

sharecroppers. Although a hierarchy existed, blacks never achieved the same level of

comfort as whites did under the same system.'

By 1910, more than half the people working in agriculture worked as

sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Although the depressions of 1877 and 1893 affected

agriculture and brought on the decline of the price of cotton, the Great Depression of

1930 saw the bottoming out of cotton and other agricultural crops. African-Americans

left rural areas in large numbers to seek employment in other industries. Although the

1930s saw an even more destitute situation, African-Americans never made great gains in

earlier times because they did not benefit from their labor.18

Just as African-Americans struggled financially in Florida's rural areas, they also

faced obstacles preventing economic success in cities. Blacks moved to urban areas such

as Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa, Orlando, and Miami in hopes of finding better paying

jobs. Industries in Florida included lumber and sawmill mining, resin and turpentine

firms, cattle farming, cigar manufacturing, and construction. Although African-

Americans found work in these industries, they held the lowest positions. They received

less pay while working longer hours than their white counterparts. Not all blacks worked

in industries; they also worked as domestics. Women held positions as cooks, maids,

laundresses, and waitresses, while men worked as butlers. Although blacks in the cities

had different experiences in terms of their duties from blacks in rural areas, they

17 Jones, Dispossessed, 81-85; Jones, A Social History ofthe Laboring Class,118-120; Hine, Hine and
Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 324-326; Baker, Following the Color Line, 74-76; Franklin and Moss,
From Slavery to Freedom, 307-308; Tebeau and Marina, A History ofFlorida, 249-250; Litwack, Trouble
in Mind, 128-130.
18 Jones, Dispossessed 74-75, 82; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 324-326.

experienced the same hardship and turmoil working in a system that would not allow

them to progress.19

No matter where African-Americans lived, the majority could not escape

destitution, a reality that revealed itself in their living conditions. African-Americans in

rural areas lived in small houses they rented from landowners. These houses lacked

modem basics such as insulation and glass windows. Many people lived under one roof

because they could not afford larger accommodations. Blacks who lived in cities also

lived under harsh conditions. They congregated in slums or settlements; the Hansontown

slum in Jacksonville housed many blacks in that city. Many people lived in these one- or

two- room structures in the same manner as in rural areas. They lived in poverty and

faced malnutrition due to a poor diet. Those on farms grew a few crops and hunted the

local wildlife. In general, African-Americans ate what they could afford and sometimes

going days without food was part of their lives.20

Besides living conditions, racism also negatively impacted how African-

American men viewed themselves. Since black men could not live their lives like white

men, they had to grapple with their definition of manhood. They lived in a world that

defined manhood by financial wealth; the ability to exercise citizenship through voting,

and generally taking part in the political system; and the ability to protect and provide for

their loved ones. Black men could not perform these actions, so they did not fit into

society's definition of manhood. In addition, the violence they faced and system of

19 James B. Crooks, Jacksonville After the Fire, 1901-1919, Jacksonville: University of North Florida
Press, 1991, 14-15; Jones, A Social History of The Laboring Classes, 121; Baker, Following the Color
Line, 57-61; Giddings, When and Where I Enter, 62-63; Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the
South, 70-71; Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery, 70-71.
20 Crook, Jacksonville After the Fire, 8; Jones, Dispossessed, 78-81; Baker, Across the Color Line, 61-62.

segregation that forced them to share the same space as black women, a reality the larger

society did not live, made them even less of men by white society's standards.21

Black women, too, suffered from the constraints society placed on them. As men

needed to be providers and protectors, women had the responsibility of caring for their

families while upholding high moral standards. Society defined a woman's character by

her virtue, and in order to subjugate black people to an inferior status, whites disrespected

black women by putting them in opposition to white women. Since white women

exemplified womanhood, black women did not. Since white women acted chaste, black

women acted like whores. White women represented all that was right with the white

race, and black women stood for all that was bad with the black race.22

Since African-American men and women could not live as human beings in the

world dictated by white supremacy, they had to create their own reality, so they created

their own institutions in which they could act as men and women and define themselves.

The black church had an important role in the African-American community as the oldest

institution in the black community controlled by blacks that provided a safe space. In

Florida, the African Methodist Episcopal Church stood as the largest black church.

Blacks also attended Baptist churches in large numbers and joined Presbyterian and

Catholic churches. Churches that blacks attended in the state included the St. Moriah

Church and the Mount Zion A. M. E Church in Ocala and the Bethel Baptist Missionary

21 Martin Summers, Manliness & Its Discontents: The Black Middle Class & the Transformation of
Masculinity, 1900-1930,Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004, 3-5; Gail Bederman,
Manliness & Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-
1917,Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995, 24-27.
22 Willard B. Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920, Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1990, 182-186; Giddings, When and Where IEnter, 54-55; White, Too Heavy A Load,36-
38, 52-53; Shaw, What A Woman Ought To Be And To Do:, 16-18, 23-26;; Bederman, Manliness &
Civilization, 75-76; Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South, 3-5, 66-67.

Church and the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Tallahassee. Churches acted as more than

religious institutions, they provided a social and political center for the black community.

Churches played an integral role in the development of the black community because

they provided for the needs of African-Americans. However, education became the

institution that African-Americans believed would free them from their situation.23

The black community gravitated toward education because they saw it as a way to

improve their economic and social condition. Through education, African-Americans

believed they could acquire better paying jobs that would give them more money to

provide for their families and ensure a comfortable life. Parents, who could, sent their

children to schools. Florida had public institutions for blacks, but these schools lacked

space, current teaching materials and books, and funding to provide black students with

an adequate education. Private institutions, such as churches, bore the burden of teaching

African-Americans and preparing them for further education.24

Churches in the South took on the role of educating blacks, but churches in the

North played a vital role in establishing permanent educational institutions for African-

Americans. One church, the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church, founded schools

23 Canter Brown, Jr. and Larry E. Rivers, For A Great And Grand Purpose: The Beginning ofthe AMEZ
Church in Florida, 1864-1905, Gainesville: University of Florida, 2004, 1-2; Larry E. Rivers and Canter
Brown, Jr., Laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord: The Beginning of the AME Church in Florida, 1865-
1895, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001, 1-22; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American
Odyssey; 339-340; Franklin and Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 293-298; David H. Jackson, Jr.,
"African American Religious and Fraternal Organizations" in A Companion to African American History,
ed. by Alton Hornsby, Jr., Maiden: Blackwell Publishing, 2005, 285-292; Tallahassee City Directory 1914,
Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1914, 38, available at the Florida State Archives; Tallahassee
City Directory 1930, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1930, 24, available at the Florida State
Archives; Black Historical Organization of Marion County, The Struggle for Survival: A Portrait History of
the Negroes ofMarion County, Ocala: Central Florida Community College, 1977, 79-80; Bartley, Keeping
the Faith, 8-9, 14.
24 Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 334-336; Richardson, Negro in the Reconstruction,
177-196; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 8-9; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 62-63.

throughout the South, specifically in Florida. The church stated in an annual report: "As

the Government has long since retired from the work of education among the freedmen,

and as the evangelical Churches in the South, either from lack of ability or interest, have

as yet done nothing in establishing and supporting schools for them, it is evident that if

this people be educated and prepared for usefulness, it must be done by the

denominational associations of the North." The Northern Methodist Episcopal Church

established the Cookman Institute and the Boylan Nurse Training Program in

Jacksonville and the Emerson Memorial Home and School in Ocala, to further its aims.25

The American Missionary Association (AMA), just like churches in the North and

South, opened schools in Florida. The association, started in 1731 as an anti-slavery

organization, turned its focus to education at slavery's end. The AMA started schools in

various parts of the South including Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. They

educated blacks in different regions of Florida and funded the Stanton Institute in

Jacksonville and the prestigious Orange Park Normal and Manual Training School in

Orange Park.26

Black people whole-heartedly welcomed education into their lives. They reduced

their illiteracy rate from 80 percent in 1870 to 16.4 percent in 1930 even though receiving

education posed a great challenge. Specifically in the city of Jacksonville, by 1900 73%

25 Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Tenth Annual Report, no date, Flowers
Collection, 3, (available at Florida State Archives); 2; Meeker, Ruth Esther, Six Decades ofService, 1880-
1940: A History of the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Cincinnati:
Steinhauser, 1969), 129-130, 151; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 21-2; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-
American Odyssey, 334-336; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 8-9; Litwack, Trouble in Mind, 62.
26 Joyce Hollyday, On the Heels of Freedom: The American Missionary Association's Bold Campaign to
Educate Minds, Open Hearts, and Heal the Soul ofa Divided Nation, New York: The Crossroad Publishing
Company, 2005, 60-64; Titus Brown, Faithful, Firm, and True: African American Education in the South,
Macon: Mercer University Press, 2002,1-21; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 8-9; State of Florida, 1899 Bi-
ennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 186-189, available at Florida State Archives.

of the African-American community was literate. In rural communities, black children

had to juggle working in the fields and going to school. In the midst of these challenges,

blacks continued to pursue education, believing it would give them better opportunities

and what they saw as a better life.27

African-Americans living in Florida faced a difficult reality. Although they lived

during a time of prosperity, they did not greatly benefit from the wealth of the nation

because of their status as second-class citizens. Their economic, political, and social

situation left them destitute and marginalized, a situation from which Reconstruction was

suppose to free them. While the black masses turned to institutions such as churches and

used education to improve their situation, the black middle-class looked to themselves to

alleviate the problems in the black community. Since the black aristocracy had a privilege

that the majority of the black community did not and they used their position as elite

members of their race to contribute to the needs of the African-American community.28

In the 1880s, black leaders spoke vehemently on what the black community

needed to do in order to advance. One leader, Booker T Washington, influenced a large

majority of the black community with his ideas. He founded the Tuskegee Institute, a

black college in Alabama and headed the Tuskegee Machine, an enterprise that involved

members of the black business-class and black institutions based all over the United

States. Washington believed in blacks advancing through economics by receiving

27 Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 338-339; Baker, Following the Color Line, 51-55;
Shaw, What A Woman Ought To Be And To Do, 69-71; Hollyday, On the Heels ofFreedom, 158-159;
Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 8-9.
2 Jacqueline M. Moore, Leading the Race: The Transformation of the Black Elite in the Nation's Capital,
1880-1920, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999, 161; Jackson, A ChiefLieutenant of the
Tuskegee Machine, 41-42; Ortiz, Emancipation Betrayed, 59-60; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 9; Crooks,
Jacksonville After the Fire, 41-44; Gaines, Uplifting the Race, 1-5.

training in specialized fields such as farming and masonry. More importantly, he

believed blacks should be self-reliant and provide for their own needs.29

The black community of Florida readily accepted Washington's views. When he

toured the state of Florida on March 1912, he visited Pensacola, Tallahassee, Lake City,

Ocala, Tampa, Lakeland, Eatonville, Daytona, and Jacksonville, and made quick stops at

smaller cities. He went to these cities because they had large black communities and

thriving black businesses. On this tour, Washington promoted his ideas on black

economic independence and self-help. The large number of blacks who turned out to

hear him speak in every city he visited showed that the black community believed in his

ideas for black progress.30

Although other leaders such as W.E. B. Du Bois did not completely agree with

Washington's plan for progress, they did believe in the idea of self-reliance Women also

organized under the idea that the black community needed to work together for its own

advancement. The National Association of Colored Women (NACW), an organization

founded in 1896 demonstrates this point. Leaders such as Mary Church Terrell and Anna

Julia Cooper focused on the role of black women in uplifting the race. They wanted to

change the society's perception of black women and took on projects from providing

facilities for juvenile delinquents to establishing kindergartens in black neighborhoods.

29 Hine, Hine, and Harrold, From Slavery to Freedom, 336-338; Jackson, "Booker T Washington Tour of
the Sunshine State, March 1912" in Go Sound the Trumpet!, 174-176; Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color,
30 Hine, Hine, and Harrold, From Slavery to Freedom, 336-338; Jackson, "Booker T Washington Tour of
the Sunshine State, March 1912," 173-194.

The black middle-class understood the destitution in the black community and used its

position to make change.31

Florida's black middle-class, like other black middle-class communities, existed

as separate from the rest of the black community because their economic situation

allowed them certain freedoms the black masses did not have. They used their wealth,

education, occupation, ancestral lineage, and religious and fraternal affiliations to

maintain their elite status. Although in many instances, the black aristocracy looked

down upon the black masses, they also realized as black citizens they all faced

discrimination and had to work together as one to fight white supremacy.32

Florida's black middle-class provided for the various needs of the black

community that segregation prevented the larger society from meeting. In the state's

capital, Tallahassee, the black community had its own newspapers. The State Capitol a

weekly newspaper owned by Edmund M. Shakespeare operated in the city in the late

1880s. By the 1900s, the Tallahassee Courier, edited by Carl F. Flipper and owned by

Edward A. Pottsdamer, began circulating. In Pensacola, where a large black elite existed

due to the creole population that settled in the city, black businesses prospered. One

street in the city, Palafox Street, housed many black businesses. Two black pharmacies,

the People's Drugstore and Pensacola Drugstore, operated down this stretch along with

multiple ice cream parlors and barbershops. Throughout Florida, black undertakers,

lawyers, restaurant owners, and other businesspersons worked to fill an area of need for

31 White, Too Heavy A Load, 22-24, 32-33; Jackson, A ChiefLieutenant, 22; Hine, Hine and Harrold,
African-American Odyssey, 339-340; David H. Jackson, Jr., "The Growth of African American Cultural
and Social Institutions" in A Companion to African American History, ed. by Alton Hornsby, Jr., Maiden:
Blackwell Publishing, 2005, 313-316.
32 Gatewood Aristocrats of Color, 69-95; Jackson, A ChiefLieutenant, 16-17, 20-21; Moore, Leading the
Race, 32.

the black community. Businesspersons, supported by institutions such as the National

Negro Business League, operated in part for the benefit of their people.33

Although the black community needed all services that the black middle-class

could provide, the need for healthcare ranked as top priority. All throughout the United

States, blacks died at a much faster rate than whites. Diseases affecting the black

community included pneumonia, convulsions and cholera. Black women had a high rate

of stillbirths and the infant mortality rate was higher than the infant mortality rate in the

white community. The health of black community continued to decline because their

economic situation prevented them getting necessary medical care. Fortunately, the

black community of Florida did have a few black doctors in the early 1880s. For

example, in Tallahassee, Dr. William Gunn established a practice in 1882 and Alexander

H. Dames had opened his practice by 1882. Later years saw more physicians working in

the city. Drs. Alpha Omega Campbell and Arthur S. Jerry worked in Tallahassee while

Drs. Joseph Seth Hill and John D. Crum practiced in Jacksonville. Although these

doctors and others practiced medicine in the state, they alone could not meet the needs of

the black community. African-Americans needed more doctors, nurses, and healthcare

institutions in order to sustain itself. Fortunately, individuals such as Dr. Effie Carrie

Mitchell Hampton and Jerenia Reid, R.N. and institutions such as the Boylan Nurse

33 Weekly Floridian, June 7, 1888; Weekly True Democrat, April 6, 1906; Weekly Tallahassean, September
23, 1904; Weekly Tallahassean, May 6, 1904; Pensacola City Directory 1907, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk &
Co., Publishers, 1907, 454, available at Florida State Archives; Pensacola City Directory 1910,
Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1910, 444, available at Florida State Archives; Pensacola City
Directory 1916, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1916, 460, available at Florida State Archives;
1910 United States Census, Tallahassee, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives.

Training Program and Brewster Hospital answered the call for more medical care in

Florida and contributed to providing for the growing needs of the black community.34

The black female professionals in this study who practiced healthcare in Florida

played an important role in their communities because they provided a great need of

African-Americans. They encountered numerous obstacles based on their "place" in

society, and had to act according to their class and gender, while denouncing their

position based on race. They are deserving of study because they made a great

contribution to healthcare by caring for the black community. They are also deserving of

study because their presence in this field showed that women also combated notions of

inferiority by working in professional fields and creating a life for themselves based on

the larger society's standard of success. The women in this study, as members of the

middle-class, demonstrate the complexities of life unique to the middle-class experience

and show the hardship and challenges that all blacks faced living in a world dictated by

white supremacy.

34 H. R. Butler, "Negligence a Cause of Mortality" in Atlanta University Publications, ed. by W. E. B. Du
Bois, New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968, 20-29; Rosa Morehead Bass, "Poverty as a Cause of
Mortality" in Atlanta University Publications, ed. by W. E. B. Du Bois, New York: Octagon Books, Inc.,
1968, 30-31; Jonathan Hutchins, "William J. Gunn and the Beginnings of the Practice of Medicine by
African Americans in Florida" in Go Sound the Trumpet!, 121-33; World War II registration card; 1900
United States Census, Jacksonville, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives; 1920
United States Census, Tallahassee, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives;
Jacksonville City Directory 1884,Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1884, 259, available at Florida
State Archives; Tallahassee City Directory 1904, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1904, 111,
available at Florida State Archives; Tallahassee City Directory 1914,Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co.,
Publishers, 1914, 146, 152, available at Florida State Archives; Tallahassee City Directory 1925,
Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1925, 211, available at Florida State Archives; Tallahassee City
Directory 1928,Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1928, 402, available at Florida State Archives;
Tallahassee City Directory 1930, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1930, 343, available at
Florida State Archives; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, November 9, 1901; Jacksonville Evening
Metropolis, September 15, 1903; The Weekly Tallahassean, February 26, 1904; Barbara Brown and Canter
Brown, Family Records of the African American Pioneers of Tampa and Hillsborough County, Tampa:
University Press of Tampa, 2003, 187-188.

What It Means To Be A Woman: The Life of Dr. Effie Carrie Mitchell

As the first African-American female physician in Florida, Dr. Effie Carrie

Mitchell Hampton warrants close study, although no book dedicated to her life story

exists. Carrie followed in the path of black men and women who entered the field before

her. As a doctor, she took on the responsibility of providing healthcare to the black

community at a time when white supremacy reigned. She worked along with the black

middle-class to ensure the African-American community would have access to life's

necessities, so they could function in a world that marked blacks as inferior and unworthy

of equal treatment. She accepted her position as a woman of the black aristocracy and

lived by the ideals set by her class, even while working in a male-dominated field. Dr.

Effie Carrie Mitchell Hampton exemplified the ideals of womanhood, working in every

way to uplift her race.

Although Carrie's life began in Fernandina, Florida the story of her life and career

begins with the African-American male and female physicians who came before her.

Black people worked in the healthcare field in early America. Under the institution of

slavery, blacks acted as each others' doctor, nurse, midwife, and psychiatrist. Violence

persisted in the system that governed them, so the process of assisting each other in

healing became a ritualized part of their lives. Undoubtedly, slavery existed not only on

plantations but all over the United States. In many instances, slaves in northern states

worked as apprentices to their white masters, and blacks who worked in this capacity

learned their masters' professions. James Derham, the best-trained and most successful

doctor of his time, proves this point.'

Born in Philadelphia in 1757, Derham worked as a slave apprentice to three

physicians. His third master, Dr. Robert Love, realized Derham possessed a wealth of

knowledge from his previous masters, and encouraged him to begin a medical practice.

After buying his freedom, Derham established a practice in 1783 in New Orleans. In a

time when blacks had no rights under the law, and the majority of blacks still lived as

slaves, Derham became well-respected and nationally renowned as a specialist in throat

disorders. His achievement stood as a monument to the work African-Americans could

do when given the opportunity; it also showed blacks had the intellectual capacity to

participate in professional endeavors, challenging the propaganda that whites created to

support their exploitation of black people.2

Due to the time in which Derham lived, the opportunity for institutional training

was not offered him. Fortunately, African-American men who came after him received

this privilege. In 1837, James McCune Smith became the first black man in the United

States to hold a medical degree. He attended the University of Glasgow in Scotland

because medical schools in the United States barred blacks. Although African-American

men readily followed suit soon after Derham, a black woman did not receive a medical

degree until Rebecca Lee Crumpler graduated from medical school in 1864. Just as

racism permeated the United States and prevented the majority of blacks from

progressing, sexism also thrived and halted the work women were allowed to do outside

1 James L. Curtis, Blacks, Medical Schools, and Society, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press,
1971, 6; Hine, Black Women in White, 1-2; 1885 Florida Census, Marion County, population schedule,
available at Florida State Archives.
2 Curtis, Blacks, Medical Schools, and Society, 6.

the home. Society saw medicine as an upstanding profession for men, but both the black

and white communities opposed the idea of women entering the field. However, a few

women challenged this standard and in 1835, Harriet Hunt became the first woman to

successfully practice medicine; in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to

receive a degree in medicine. When Crumpler started her career, white women had

worked as physicians for over two decades. Crumpler, born in Delaware in 1831, started

her medical career in the nursing profession. She worked as a nurse for eight years

without formal training before she attended medical school. Crumpler matriculated at the

New England Female Medical College in 1860, and became the only black woman to

graduate from the institution before it closed in 1873. Crumpler practiced medicine in

Massachusetts and Virginia and played a vital role in caring for recently freed men and

women after the Civil War. She specialized in the care of women and children, bringing

attention to the importance of health in the black community.3

Years after Crumpler began her career, African-American women did not enter

the medical profession in large numbers, but a few women saw medicine as a viable

option. In 1867, Rebecca J. Cole became the second black woman to receive a medical

degree. She graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, an all-

female institution, and she began her professional career with the New York Infirmary for

3 Hine, Black Women in White, 3-5; Watson, Against the Odds, 46-49; Walsh, "Doctors Wanted: No
Women Need Apply, xv, 1; Scrivener and Barnes, A Biographical Dictionary of Women Healers, 63-64.

Women and Children. A few years later, in 1870, Susan Maria Smith graduated from the

New York Medical College and Hospital for Women.4

Due to the hostile racial climate and mainstream society's desire to keep African-

Americans in subservient positions, blacks could not attend institutions of higher learning

in great numbers in the early nineteenth century. Many schools had quotas on the

number of blacks they would admit, but for the most part schools completely denied

access to African-Americans. However, as a result of the daunting medical needs of the

black community and the desire for more economic opportunities that would continue to

allow African-Americans to improve their position, medical schools for blacks began to

open. Howard University in Washington, D.C. began operation on November 20, 1866,

and the medical school commenced its program on November 9, 1869. The school

opened for African-Americans, but it accepted all skilled applicants regardless of race,

color, or gender. Although Howard accepted women into its program since its inception,

a woman did not graduate from the program until Mary Dora Speckman received her

medical degree in 1872. This reality also existed for Meharry Medical College. The

school, which opened its doors in 1876 in Nashville, Tennessee, did not graduate a

woman from its program until 1893. Annie D. Gregg, who specialized in the "Special

Course in Obstetrics" and practiced in south Nashville, shares that honor with Georgia

Patton who also graduated that year. Patton became the first black woman to hold a

4 James Summerville, Educating Black Doctors: A History of Meharry Medical College, Alabama: The
University of Alabama Press, 1983, 21, 31; Watson, Against the Odds, 24, 47-54; Scrivener and Barnes, A
Biographical Dictionary, 58.

license to practice medicine and surgery in her home state of Tennessee. Three months

after her graduation, she traveled to Liberia to do missionary work.

Although society viewed medicine as a man's job, a call for women to enter the

profession occurred because women began to push the roles that society had deemed

appropriate for them. The Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical

school for women, expanded the role that women would play outside the home when it

opened in 1850. The school and other institutions that accepted women enrolled them

with the idea of "women serving women." Since rules of etiquette stated that women

needed to be restrained in the presence of men, women could only follow this rule when

they had female physicians.6

The medical community also called for women because they needed doctors to

work in pediatrics, a field that most men did not aspire to enter. Women were pushed to

enter the field because of the idea of women being nurturers. Since women had the

responsibility of caring for children at home, people believed women could also care for

children in the medical arena. In addition, women could have entered this field because

sexism prevented them from working in other areas. Society encouraged women to enter

noncompetitive fields that required the least amount of training and had high patient

interactions. They believed surgery and specialized work did not fall under those

categories and that type of work would hinder women from their responsibilities at


s Ward, Black Physicians, 4-7; Summerville, Educating Black Doctors, 21, 31-32; Watson, Against the
Odds, 22-24, 47-54.
6 Watson, Against the Odds, 50-53.
7 Ibid., 54-55.

Women also entered missionary work because numerous associations began to

take on the work of serving communities outside of the United States. One organization,

the American Colonization Society (ACS), made missionary work a major part of its

efforts. The organization funded the training of African-Americans in medicine in order

to create a supply of doctors willing to travel to places such as Liberia and the Congo to

care for the sick and poor.8

Before African-American women began working in the medical field in Florida,

black men established themselves in the profession. Alongside Dr. William Gunn and

Dr. Arthur Jerry in Tallahassee, other cities produced black doctors. George Petigrew

Norton practiced medicine in Apalachicola and in the Tampa area. He was born in

Waukeenah, Jefferson County, Florida, on November 15, 1865, but lived his teenage

years in Clay County, spending time in Jacksonville to earn money to pay for his

education. Like many other black southerners, he attended Meharry Medical College.

He received his medical license in 1897 and established a practice in Apalachicola. His

practice was lucrative and in addition to his doctor's office, he opened a drug store, but

he decided to relocate to Tampa to assist in taking care of his wife's aging family. There

he worked as a physician and community leader, founding the Tampa Negro Board of

Trade and assisted in creating the Central Industrial Insurance Company.9

Before Carrie began practicing medicine for the black community, only men had

taken responsibility for caring for African-Americans. Although no black women held

8 Ward, Against the Odds, 53-54; Judith Lorber, Women Physicians: Careers, Status, and Power, New
York: Tavistock Publications, 1984, 1,32.
91920 United States Census, Ocala, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives;
Brown and Brown, Family Records, 187-188.

such a position, Florida was not foreign to women entering medical schools. Louise

Cecilia Fleming, known as "Lulu" and born around the time of the Civil War hailed from

Clay County. She attended college at Shaw University and after graduating from the

program in 1855, she began medical studies at the Women's Medical College of

Pennsylvania. A member of the Baptist church, she took a break from her studies to

perform missionary duties in the Congo. Upon her return to the United States, she

finished school and earned her medical degree around the 1890s. Although an early

death did not allow her the privilege of practicing medicine in Florida, she became the

first black woman from Florida to graduate from medical school.10

Fortunately, Lulu does not stand as the only Florida woman to receive a medical

degree before Carrie attended medical school. Susie Dilworth also achieved the same

distinction. Susie came into the world around 1878 in Jacksonville to Benjamin and

Hatty Dilworth. Benjamin, a carpenter by trade, acted as a leader in the Jacksonville

community through his affiliation with Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church. He

presided as minister, and before his death, he reached the position of church elder. Due

to her religious affiliation, Susie attended the Cookman Institute and Boylan Home and

School for Girls. After she finished preliminary studies, she attended Meharry Medical

College. Upon her gradation, she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she opened a

private practice. In 1904, she married Dr. J. Otis Hickman, a fellow Meharry graduate

from Springfield, Illinois, and settled with him in that city. Unfortunately, Dilworth

passed away on January 27, 1906. Although she had a short career, her life gives

t1 Lawson A. Scruggs, Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character, Raleigh,
N.C.: L. A. Scruggs, 1892, 197-203; G. F. Richings, Evidences of Progress Among Colored People,
Philadelphia: George S. Ferguson Co., 1896, 401; Philadelphia Christian Recorder, March 10, 1887.

evidence to the work done by black women who have gone unrecognized in history.

Dilworth became the second black female Floridian to graduate from a medical college,

but her work in Arkansas shows that before Carrie's graduation from medical school, no

African-American woman had practiced medicine in the state of Florida."I

By 1900, African-American women began to see medicine as a feasible job

opportunity because a demand for doctors existed in the black community. By 1900,

most states in the South had never been home to a black female physician. However,

Florida was not foreign to black men and women in healthcare. In a state where white

supremacy was a part of life, black men and women were able to establish themselves in

their profession and help the black community sustain itself. When Carrie began

practicing medicine in Florida, she continued in the tradition of black men and women

before her and acted as a pioneer in her own right.12

Before Carrie became a professional, she lived a life typical of those in the black

elite. She came into the world in the city of Femandina, a city like others in the state.

Femandina had a racial climate that stifled the opportunities for African-Americans;

however, blacks still made significant advances. The city, located northeast of

Jacksonville on the Atlantic coast of Florida, became a bustling town because of its

proximity to water. Businesses flourished and a few blacks made economic gains in that

" Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, June 3, 1892, March 2, 1904, January 29, 1906; Florida Times Union,
December 2, 1900; Canter Brown, Florida's Black Public Officials 1867-1924, Tuscaloosa: University of
Alabama Press, 1998, 85.
12 Hine, Black Women in White, 7-9; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 352; Carolyn
Speiler, Women in Medicine-1976, New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, 1977, 9.

environment. Carrie came into a household of African-Americans who existed in such


Reuben S. Mitchell and Susie Mitchell, African-Americans who lived in better

circumstances than the majority of the black Florida population, gave Carrie the start that

enabled her to achieve success. Her parents exemplified what it meant to be of middle

class. Reuben S. Mitchell, a Florida native, came into the world around 1855. Though

evidence does not reveal his place of birth, most likely he grew up in Marion County.

Motivated by the opportunity for economic and social advancement, he eventually moved

to Raleigh, North Carolina, to attend the prestigious Shaw University. Shaw University,

founded on December 1, 1865 by Dr. Henry Martin Tupper, a veteran soldier of the

Union army, was one of the few institutions of higher learning for blacks during

Reconstruction. Like many black elite, he took advantage of this opportunity in order to

have access to better job opportunities. He benefited from the federal government's

willingness to employ African-Americans in government positions.14

Reuben's pursuit of education proved successful because when he returned to

Florida, he secured the position of town-clerk, assessor, and tax collector for a one-year

term. This public official position put him in a situation blacks never had access to

during slavery. He held a position that required a high level of skill. It brought respect

because in a time when most blacks could not read or write, his skills allowed him to

3 George M. Barbour, Floridafor Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers, New York: D. Appleton and Company,
1882, 25-32; Tebeau and Marina, A History of Florida, 251-252.
14 Ibid.

acquire a position with responsibility -- one that showed black people had the intellectual

capabilities equal to whites.'5

Unfortunately, Reuben's job was temporary and because he could not secure a

long-term position, he moved back to North Carolina. Fortunately, in 1880, he returned

to Fernandina shortly after his departure to accept the position of U. S. Marshall at

Wacahoota in Marion County, a position he received due to his strong affiliation with the

Republican Party. In that year, Reuben also published The Ocala Republican, described

in the Weekly Floridian as, "a newspaper published at the above mentioned place by R. S.

Mitchell & Co., the Proprietors. It is Republican in politics." Not long after his return,

he also received the position of United States mail agent responsible for the trains

traveling from Fernandina on the Atlantic coast and Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico. This

long-term position allowed him economic stability. He settled in Fernandina with his

wife Susie to start a family and Carrie became the first addition to their household on

November 8, 1885.16

Carrie's mother Susie also demonstrated the privilege of the black aristocracy

because she also received higher education. Like her husband, she attended Shaw

University. Shaw University began accepting women shortly after its inception on March

1, 1866, and has remained open to both genders ever since. Susie received an

opportunity most blacks and women never had. Her work as a music teacher in later

years gives evidence to the fact she concentrated either in education or music while in

college. Black women who received higher education predominantly went into the

15 Weekly Sun & Press, April 11, 1878; 1885 Florida Census.
16 Weekly Floridian, February 3, 1880; Savannah Morning News, January 27, 1880; 1885 Florida Census.

teaching field upon graduation. As Jacqueline Moore stated, "For the elite, higher

education was an important part of social status."'7

Reuben and Susie believed in the institution of family, and after bringing Carrie

into the world, they had three more daughters named Willie, Ruby and Mattie. Susie

took on the traditional role of staying at home and caring for their children. Her husband

could provide for the family, so she did not have to work. While she accepted her

responsibilities in the personal sphere, she also acknowledged as a woman of the black

middle-class that she had a responsibility to the community. Along with being active in

her church, Susie participated in the Woman's Home Mission State Convention. By

1905, she held the position of president.'8

Reuben also solidified his position in the black aristocracy through his

membership in the Masons. This fraternal order allowed him to act in a leadership role

that as a black man at the time, he otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do.

In that space, black men could stand as leaders in their community without the pressure

of oppression and white supremacy dictating their actions. Reuben achieved the position

of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida, Free and Accepted Masons. The

community praised him for his parliamentarian skills and for writing the constitution of

the Grand Lodge of Florida, the constitution for the Masonic Benefit Association, and

organizing the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and the Grand Commandery of

'7 1880 United States Census, Ocala, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives;
1910 United State Census, Ocala, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives; Moore,
Leading the Race, 25.
18 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, April 2, 1905; Reuben S. Mitchell, probate records, December 31,
1924, available at the Ocala Courthouse.

Knights Templar. He was also the first man to bring the higher Masonic degrees into


Although the city of Fernandina provided a good home for the Mitchells, Reuben

relocated the family to Ocala, a move that came during a devastating time in Florida

history. Yellow fever, commonly know as "yellow jack," struck the state in the spring of

1888. It began as an undiagnosed disease that caused a high fever and the death of a few

citizens. Before the end of the summer, it became a plague that changed all of Florida.

The disease took the lives of many citizens and in order to combat the plague, the Board

of Health enforced a quarantine that prevented people from leaving the state. The U. S.

government stationed officers to patrol the land that bordered Florida and Georgia to

ensure that people complied with the quarantine order. The disease shut down all

business and social interactions, and the fear of the disease would have affected the well-

being of the Mitchell family.20

The Ocala that existed before the coming of "yellow jack" prospered due to the

various industries in the town. One of the larger cities in the state, the economic progress

enabled the black community of Ocala to prosper in its early history. Blacks participated

fully and made economic gains in farming. One newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette,

spoke on that fact with the statement, "The town is surrounded by orange groves, all

owned by colored men." Hostile conditions existed in Ocala as they did throughout

Florida, but a few blacks took advantage of the area's economic boom. As the

19 Pensacola Florida Sentinel 1904 Annual Edition, no pagination; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis,
October 7, 1903, December 17, 1904; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 13.
20 T. Frederick Davis, History ofJacksonville, Florida and Vicinity, 1513-1924, reprint ed., Jacksonville:
San Marco Bookstore, 1990, 180-186; James Weldon Johnson, Along This Way: The Autobiography of
James Weldon Johnson, New York: Viking Penguin, 1933, 90-92.

Gainesville Florida Sentinel expressed, "Push and business enterprise appears to be a

significant feature of Ocala's colored men." The Gainesville Florida Sentinel went so far

as to say, "Ocala is doubtless in the lead, because of the fact that her colored men are

getting down to business and grappling with the things that will not only bring them in

close business relation and contact with the more favored sons of the country, but will

necessarily develop capabilities and business tact that may yet astound their prejudiced


Although the Ocala that Reuben returned to did not bustle with economic fervor

due to yellow fever, by late December things began to return to normal. Men and women

returned to their daily work and children returned to school. In 1888, Carrie reached

three years of age. Before Carrie received formal education, learning began at home. As

Willard Gatewood stated, "The family and the home environment were keys to the

perpetuation of the tradition of literary and education bequeathed by antebellum

forebears." They placed importance on formal and informal education to prepare their

children for any opportunities they could have. Susie, as the parent at home, taught

Carrie and shared with her daughter a love for music. Susie could skillfully sing and play

the piano. It remained important for her to instill this talent in her child because it

showed that blacks had the intellectual capacity to learn the skill. Learning music was

also important to the white middle-class because it symbolized success; they could afford

to spend money on extravagant things such as pianos or violins. It also showed that they

had refinement and culture. When blacks acquired these things, they showed white

21 Gainesville Florida Sentinel, July 17, 1891; Cleveland Gazette, October 10, 1885.

society that African-Americans could also be successful. Even though society placed

blacks as second-class citizens, they could and were achieving the same things as white


Carrie started her formal education at Howard Academy, Ocala's exemplary

school for black children. Howard Academy, established in 1866, after the end of the

Civil War, opened to educate the recently freed slave children in Marion County. The

Freedmen's Bureau, which took on the responsibility of providing education to freedmen

and women, played a large role in the leadership of the school. Missionaries sponsored

by the Freedmen's Bureau, usually white women from the North, taught at these

institutions, and specifically at Howard Academy. Black teachers did not teach at the

school until 1880. When the school had the misfortune of catching fire in 1887, the

incident forced Howard Academy to start anew. The administrators built a new building

and moved the school to N. W. Adams and Academy Street. This improvement allowed

for a larger student body, furthering the education of more black children. For many

years, Howard Academy stood as one of the exceptional educational institutions for

blacks in the state of Florida. Its reputation resulted in a large student body of young

black men and women from various counties in the state. The school, a larger institute

housing twenty rooms, welcomed Carrie and started her institutional education.23

Howard Academy, as a public institute in the South, most likely educated blacks

in a way most schools did with industrial training. African-American leader Booker T.

22 Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color, 247-29; J. M. Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in Negro History in Florida,
Jacksonville: Federal Writers' Program, 1936, 4.
23 Black Historical Organization of Marion County, Struggle for Survival, 36; Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in
Negro History in Florida, 4; State of Florida, 1898 Bi-ennial Report of the Superintendent of Public
Instruction, 394-395, available at Florida State Archives.

Washington favored this type of education believing it would grant black people access

to better economic opportunities through skilled trades such as carpentry and brick

masonry. As historian Neverdon-Morton stated, "Washington saw industrial education as

a means of fostering a strong economy, the habits of thrift, a love of work, ownership of

property and a desire for bank accounts. Without industrial development, he saw no

wealth and no leisure for Afro-Americans; without leisure there would be no 'opportunity

for thoughtful reflection and the higher cultivation of the arts."'24

Many in the black elite wanted a curriculum that would enable their children to

pursue higher education in various fields, but public institutions promoted industrial

training and preparing blacks for industrial jobs. In order to ensure their children

received the best education possible, members of the black middle-class sent their

children to private schools. The AMA and other religious and philanthropic institutions

established these tuition-based schools. Although members of the middle-class had a

substantially larger income than the black majority, they underwent financial strain to

ensure their children received the kind of education that would elevate their status and not

reduce them to subservient positions.25

For this reason or for the want of a stronger education than the Ocala community

provided, Carrie's parents sent her to AMA's Orange Park School for Girls. Although

the AMA funded the school, the initial idea for such a school came from a meeting of the

State Association of Congregational Ministers of Florida. The school opened in 1891

with a small student body of 26 students. Situated on the St. John's River, twelve miles

24 Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color, 256-259; Moore, Leading the Race, 86-88; Neverdon-Morton, Afro-
American Women of the South, 33.
25 Ibid.

from Jacksonville, the quiet location became a suitable environment for study. By the

following year, the school had a population of over a hundred students, and that number

continued to increase in the following years. Unlike many schools catering to the black

community, Orange Park provided modem facilities. The school, established as a private

institution, consisted of the Orange Park School for Girls and the Orange Park School for

Boys. The AMA founded the school not just to educate black children, but also to give

them the training in order for them to become teachers. The campus, located just south of

Jacksonville, consisted of a main school building and two dormitories for the different

genders. Orange Park provided a community of learning that allowed blacks to gain

knowledge in a variety of areas.26

Although Orange Park came into existence for black children, white children also

attended the school. As A. F. Beard, Superintendent of Orange Park, stated: "When the

property was given to the society, it was received with the understanding that the white

people should have the privileges of education at the institution if they should so desire."

The AMA opened the school to whites because it believed that no other school in the area

afforded children, whether black or white, with the education available at Orange Park.

Orange Park's open enrollment caused great controversy because the school did not

follow the rules of segregation. Leaders in Florida vehemently opposed the intermingling

of the races because they believed it would promote social equality. The community

wanted the school closed if it did not close its doors to white students. Orange Park

strongly defended its policy; however, it denied it believed and practiced social equality

26 State of Florida, 1899 Bi-ennial Report of the Superintendent ofPublic Instruction, 186-189, available at
Florida State Archives; State of Florida, 1900 Bi-ennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction,
257, 288, available at Florida State Archives; Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in Negro History in Florida, 4.

in order to appease people who prescribed to the racist notions of the time. Beard stated:

"As to the doctrine of social equality, it was neither talked of or mentioned. This is no

part of the school work." As a private institution, Orange Park did not receive aid from

the state, so it continued to operate as it wanted.27

Though Carrie did not begin her studies at Orange Park, the school did have an

elementary department beginning with first grade. Students could attend school up to the

twelfth grade at the institution. The course of study started with three years of primary

education, followed by three years of intermediate studies. The next phase of classes was

part of the Grammar School and that program lasted for two years. The secondary

education, called the Normal Course, consisted of four years of study. Courses at the

school included arithmetic, history, geography, and science. In addition to these classes,

the young women took classes in sewing and dressmaking, while the young men took

carpentry and woodworking. While this school offered industrial classes, its focus was

not industrial training. Orange Park also offered courses in architecture and drawing, and

to Carrie's delight, the school also taught vocal and instrumental music, allowing her to

continue to develop her musical gift. In order to keep the cost of attendance at a

reasonable rate, the school required that each student work an hour a day on its premises.

Orange Park stood out as a leading educational institution and received over thirty prizes,

premiums, and honorable mentions because of its stellar academic performance.28

27 State of Florida, 1896 Bi-ennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 50-71, 184-189,
available at Florida State Archives.
28 State of Florida, 1899 Bi-ennial Report, 186-189; State of Florida, 1900 Bi-ennial, 257, 288; Johnson,
"Ocala, Florida" in Negro History in Florida, 4.

Besides attending a prestigious institution, Carrie's extracurricular activities

spoke to her class. Her activities included the Tucker's Literary Club. Literary

organizations were important to the black middle-class because there, African-Americans

could work on developing their reading, writing, and oratorical skills. These

organizations prepared African-Americans in the art of communicating so they would be

effective leaders. These organizations were also important because they showed that

blacks could exhibit refinement. The society believed blacks were illiterate and ignorant

and even with education, they could not achieve the status of whites. Even though

prominent figures such as Phyllis Wheatley, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and

Booker T. Washington disproved the notion that African-Americans could not articulate

intelligent ideas and engage poignantly in discussions, these ideas continued to prevail.

The black aristocracy made sure their children participated in clubs that allowed them to

counteract ideas that perpetuated the notion of black inferiority.29

Carrie also remained active in the church. Her family attended the Saint Moriah

Baptist church where she regularly shared her musical talents. She served as organist and

also participated in auxiliary groups. The church stood as an important institution in the

black community because it provided support to blacks and a space where they could feel

free. Carrie continued to have strong ties to the church throughout her life.30

Carrie's childhood created an environment in which she could attain greater

things. As a member of the black elite, she received a privilege most blacks did not have.

She attended Central Tennessee College, later known as Walden University. Her growth

29 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, August 31, 1903; Moore, Leading the Race, 51-52; Johnson, "Ocala,
Florida" in Negro History in Florida, 4; Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 36.
30 Obituary, December 1964, Dr. Carrie Hampton Collection, available at Florida State Archives; Walker,
Leading the Race, 70-71; Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color, 272-273.

and development were fostered so she would be able to take on the challenge of uplifting

her race. She was reared to take a position that would enable her to contribute to the

betterment of the black community. Though evidence has not been revealed that shows

when Carrie desired to attend medical school, documents reveal that by 1903, she had

been accepted to Meharry Medical College. In 1903, she started on a path, which few

blacks had taken, allowing her to make great contributions to the welfare of her people.31

Carrie, knowing as a black woman she would be accomplishing a great feat,

prepared for life in Tennessee with the support of the community. The Ocala community,

recognizing the importance of Carrie's success, wished her farewell with numerous well

wishes and goodbye parties. On Friday, August 28, 1903, a private party took place in

her honor. The guests, mostly members of the Tucker's Literary Society and close

friends, gathered at the home of Reverend Patterson of the Saint Moriah Baptist Church

to celebrate a new chapter in her life. They took a trolley ride to Amelia Beach Island

where they had a picnic. After the picnic, the party, in the form of a formal reception,

continued at the Mitchell home.32

To mark such a significant occasion, the Mitchell family prepared a program.

The event started with an address given by Adolphus Lewis for the young men in

attendance. Annett Patterson followed with an address for the young women. J. H. Stays

Jr., vice-president of the Tucker's Literary Club, gave a speech directed at Carrie. As the

Jacksonville Evening Metropolis noted, "the addresses were ably made in words that

showed sadness and how much esteem Miss Mitchell was held among the young people

31 Obituary, December 1964, Dr. Carrie Hampton Collection; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, August 27,
1903; Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in Negro History in Florida, 4.
32 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, August 27, 29, 31, 1903.

she associated with." Carrie responded to all those present and said farewell to her

friends and family. The event also included an oral recitation and singing. The

community of Ocala made sure that Carrie knew she had their support.33

The Meharry Medical College that Carrie encountered was an institution in

Nashville, Tennessee, that had allowed numerous blacks the opportunity to make

economical advances and to fulfill the medical needs in the black community. Before the

medical school opened, the university affiliated with Central Tennessee College,

established in 1866. The Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church

founded the institution. However, the medical school sprang from the vision of George

Whipple Hubbard. Hubbard, a New Hampshire native and former Union soldier, saw

firsthand the problems blacks in the South faced. Due to his own interest in medicine, he

attended the University of Nashville, the institution where he received a medical degree.

While still in school, he began work on a medical school for blacks. The school started

with Hubbard as superintendent and the sole instructor. Hubbard could not hire

additional staff because he lacked funds and, as a private institution, his school could not

receive funding from the state.34

Hubbard, understanding that he needed the financial support of the community in

order to create and maintain such specialized institution, sought money from various

individuals. Fortunately, the community responded well and the five Meharry brothers,

led by the eldest, Samuel Meharry, donated a large sum of money; Hubbard named the

3 Ibid.
34 Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Tenth Annual Report, no date, Flowers
Collection, 3; Charles Victor Roman, Meharry Medical College: A History, 1934, Reprint: Freeport: Books
for Libraries Press, 1972, 40; Ward, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 5-8; Watson, Against the
Odds, 24-25; Summerville, Education Black Doctors, 15-21.

school after them as a way of saying thank you. The Meharry brothers donated money to

the school to show appreciation to the black family who aided Samuel in his time of

need. Late one evening in the year 1826, while Samuel was driving his wagon, he

slipped of the road and got caught in a swamp. A black family came to his rescue and

offered him food and shelter. Samuel felt indebted to this family and told them, "I have

no money, but when I can, I shall do something for your race." Samuel kept true to his

word and donated $30,000 to the institution.35

When Carrie left Ocala on Monday, August 31, 1903, to start medical school

along with five other Floridians, she encountered a different curriculum than Dr. Gunn

had when he attended the school before 1882. The program had been strengthened to

better prepare students for life as medical doctors. Under the updated curriculum

Meharry required students entering the program to have already completed college and to

have a diploma in hand as evidence of their schooling. Those who provided evidence of

higher education did not have to take an entrance examination. Students who had not

attended college had to take the entrance exam and could not begin study in the program

without showing they had mastered the prerequisite courses. In addition, the school

extended the program to four years of study and students had to pass an exam after the

end of each year's program before they could move on to the next level of study. Carrie

encountered this rigorous curriculum when she began her program.36

36 Summerville, Educating Black Doctors, 21-32; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, August 31, 903, April
22, 1907.

The change in curriculum strengthened Meharry just like the diverse staff created

a strong environment of learning. One of the many qualified professors at the institute,

Dr. Josie E. Wells, represented what African-American women could do when given the

opportunity. A graduate of Meharry in 1904, she began teaching and working at the

hospital upon her graduation. She became the only female, black or white, to teach at

Meharry. She specialized in women and children's health and would have been an

important presence in Carrie's life.37

The Florida community, proud of Carrie's progress, reported her movements in

the local newspapers. On June 4, 1904, the Jacksonville Evening Metropolis shared with

its readers, "Miss E. Carrie Mitchell, of Ocala, Fla., spent a few days in Palatka this

week. She was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. F. Summers. Miss Mitchell is a member of the

graduating class of 1903 of the Orange Park Normal School, also a student at Meharry

Medical School, of Tennessee." Florida never forgot about Carrie, understanding that her

success would also be their success. The support of the community, along with the fact

that she hailed from Florida, most likely encouraged her to return home upon


Fortunately, Carrie graduated from Meharry in April 1907 and to the jubilation of

Florida's African-American community, the graduating class included six Floridians.

Not sure if all the students planned to build a practice in Florida, a local newspaper

stated, "It is not yet known whether these young physicians will locate in their native

37 Summerville, Educating Black Doctors, 21-32; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, April 22, 1907.
38 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, June 4, 1904.

State or not. With the assurance of there being room at the top, there is a bright career for

them all."39

Although Carrie had successfully gone through medical school, the fact that she

established a practice so soon after she graduated was another important feat because it

meant she passed her state medical exam, something many blacks failed to do. By 1900,

all states had medical exams that physicians had to pass in order to register to practice

medicine. In 1910, 31.8 percent of Howard graduates and 42.7 percent of Meharry

graduates failed state exams. Many failed because they were not well-prepared and

others failed due to racist examiners who wanted to prevent African-Americans from

making economic progress. Some blacks who did not pass in a particular state would

then pass when they took their boards in another state. African-Americans could not

escape the hands of racism that permeated all aspects of their lives.40

Even when African-Americans passed their exams, they faced difficulties in

establishing a practice because they could not secure funding. When many blacks

graduated from medical school, they left with a large debt. White bankers often turned

down loans to black doctors because they saw them as a financial risk. They also were

unwilling to support blacks who they believed were attempting to disturb the social order.

However, in communities in need of black doctors, residents welcomed doctors and

sometimes showed their support by assisting them with acquiring equipment, getting low-

interest loans, and office space. Unfortunately, most physicians did not have this


39 Ibid., April 22, 1907.
40 Ward, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 103-105.
41 Ibid.

Carrie, unlike many other African-Americans, received an open welcome from

the community and her family. In order to save money while she built up a clientele or

because she wanted the constant support of her family, she established her private

practice in her parent's home on 11 3rd West Broadway. By 1908, the Ocala directory

listed Carrie in the business section of the book as a physician and her practice was

named "Dr. Mitchell's Block." In a short time, she established herself in the profession.42

Although Carrie had great support, she would have encountered challenges in her

work. Black physicians had to compete with white doctors and folk healers for patients.

Since black physicians did not have access to the same resources as whites, usually they

worked in inferior facilities. Some blacks who could afford white doctors would

patronize them because they believed they would receive better services from white

doctors. Even when African-American physicians had adequate equipment and sanitary

facilities, they faced discrimination from blacks who believed that whites, as a superior

race, made better doctors. Also, many blacks could not afford treatment, so they relied

on folk healers and homemade remedies. In many instances, African-Americans only

saw doctors after exhausting other options. Since healthcare as an institution was not part

of the black community, blacks did not readily seek the aid of black physicians. Carrie

could have been a victim of this circumstance.43

A reality that Carrie did have to deal with involved her gender. Blacks who

believed a woman's place was the home would have objected to her position. She

expanded the realm of what women could do; this would have made many people

42 Ocala City Directory 1908-1909, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1908, 150, 184, available at
Florida State Archives; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, June 4, 1908; Lorber, Women Physicians, 1-3.
43 Ward, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 121-123.

uncomfortable. Also, if she only worked with women and children as most women

physicians did, she would have had a smaller clientele. Rules of etiquette stated that

women should not be seen in public without the company of a man, and constant travel

would have made that difficult. Since most African-Americans lived in poverty, they did

not have transportation. Male doctors, especially those working in rural areas used house

calls, something important in building a clientele. When women made house calls, it

happened at certain times of the day. Carrie, different from most female doctors, utilized

house calls, but the extent to which she traveled is undetermined.44

Physicians also faced the problem of receiving payment for services rendered.

Since the majority of the black population in Florida existed as part of the lower-class,

receiving money would have been difficult. The credit system was a popular method of

handling business transactions and this would have hindered black businesses that could

not collect on their debt, but still had to pay their creditors. Black physicians also

charged less than their white colleagues to accommodate the needs of the poor. Even

though their position had a great potential for economic prosperity, physicians had to be

diligent to ensure they benefited from their work. As historian Thomas Ward reported in

1917 Journal of the National Medical Association "'fully 50 percent' of any black

physician's practice was 'absolute charity' and 'that if he is a success financially, it is

because he enters some business sideline as a means of sustenance.'"45

44 Watson, Against the Odds, 55-59; Ward, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 118-119; Walsh,
Doctors Wanted, 39-43.
45 Baker, Following the Color Line, 42-43; Ward, Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 121-122, 136;
Watson, Against the Odds, 81-82.

For this reason or due to the needs of the black community, Carrie decided to

extend the work she did by opening a drugstore. Part of her duties as a physician

included writing prescriptions for patients. In performing this function, Carrie realized a

drugstore did not exist for the black community. Knowing she would profit from such an

endeavor, after just two years of practicing medicine, she opened Mitchell's Pharmacy in

1911. She established Mitchell's Pharmacy at 28 W. Broadway where she relocated her

private practice.46

Carrie acted as pharmacist as well as physician, filling many of her own

prescriptions. The opening of Mitchell's Pharmacy spoke to Carrie's business sense.

Carrie worked in accord with other doctors by having her practice in a pharmacy. This

proved fruitful for doctors because they had access to medicines and new clients from the

people who patronized the drug store. However, unlike most doctors, Carrie owned the

drugstore in which she worked. The pharmacy also demonstrated Carrie's intelligence.

Not only could she diagnose and treat patients, but she also understood the science of

pharmacology. Other doctors might have possessed this knowledge, but Carrie

demonstrated her skill on a regular basis. She showed that blacks and women had an

intellectual capacity equal to whites and men.47

Carrie not only used her graduation from medical school to begin working in her

field, but she also used her accomplishments to influence others. As a woman raised to

perform the work of uplifting the community, she continued with that work by giving

46 Ocala City Directory 1911-1912, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1911, 110; Black Historical
Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 80.
47 Ocala City Directory 1911-1912, 110; Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 80; Ward,
Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 111.

speeches regarding her experience in medical school and as a doctor. On June 4, 1908,

she delivered an address to the Women's Federation Club in St. Augustine. The

newspaper commented on her speech by saying, "The doctor brought away the laurels

and won much praise for the thoughtful and logical address given to a very appreciative

audience." People wanted to hear her speak because they understood the significance of

her position as a black female doctor in the early 1900s. Even as she worked as a doctor,

she never forgot her responsibilities as a woman.48

Carrie, understanding the importance of building and maintaining a relationship

with fellow African-American medical professionals, and having the desire to gain

helpful information through networking, joined the State Medical Association of Colored

Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists, a chapter of the National Medical Association

(NMA). Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, surgeon-in-chief at the Freedmen's Hospital, founded

the NMA in 1895 because the American Medical Association (AMA) denied

membership to blacks. The African-American medical community responded well to the

organization and blacks formed local as well as regional chapters. The existence of the

organization showed that a sizable black medical community existed and they wanted

their presence felt.49

To the chagrin of some of the local black doctors and especially Dr. Roberts of St.

Augustine, the Florida chapter had lost the power of organization because

it had ceased having annual meetings. Roberts believed, "the association should be a

strong fraternal bank in living co-operation with the State Board of Health and every

48 Ocala City Directory 1908-1909, 150,184; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, June 4, 1908; Neverdon-
Morton, Afro-American Women of the South, 4-6.
49 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, July 29, 1910.

move for hygiene improvement." He encouraged all professionals to become members

of the organization and stated, "at least ninety-eight percent of all who are in the

profession should be active members of the association." Many of those in attendance

agreed with Roberts, evidenced by nineteen new members joining the organization that


Although evidence does not reveal when Carrie joined the State Medical

Association, by 1910 she had established herself in the medical community and played a

vital role in the organization. The organization welcomed her because of her skill, and

she stood out as the only member of her gender. The Jacksonville Evening Metropolis

made sure to mention to its readers Carrie's presence in the organization. The association

supported Carrie in her profession. Believing in her skills as a physician and a

spokesperson, the association appointed her, along with five other physicians, to

represent the Florida chapter at the National Medical Association meeting in Washington,

D.C. Carrie, even in her early years, took on a prominent role in the medical


Carrie showed her culture and refinement in her work and leisure. She continued

to play an active role in the church, singing and playing the organ. She also displayed her

musical talents at the State Medical Association meetings. The Jacksonville Evening

Metropolis reported such an occasion at a meeting when it stated, "The singing was

accompanied by Dr. Carrie Mitchell on the piano." This act showed Carrie enjoyed

sharing her talents, whether in medicine or music, with the community. It also illustrated

50 Ibid., July 28-29, 1910.
51 Ibid.

that she adhered to the ideals of womanhood. Even though she remained in a profession

and association dominated by men, she worked in those spheres as a woman supporting

the community and working to uplift the race by actively providing care to people and by

showing people that black women could also be respectable and ladylike.52

In addition to her affinity for music, Mitchell enjoyed traveling. She traveled for

professional engagements and for leisure. The local newspapers often reported her

whereabouts. On February 5, 1912, the Jacksonville Evening Metropolis stated, "Dr. C.

A. Mitchell of Ocala, after spending a few days in the city, during the celebration, was an

outgoing passenger on Tuesday night...During her stay she had the opportunity of having

a pleasant drive over the city, also visited the grand exhibition at the convent." Carrie

kept abreast of the happenings in and outside Ocala because she understood that it

affected her life and work. Unfortunately, Jim Crow laws made traveling difficult.

Traveling often reminded African-Americans of their race, if they ever forgot, because

segregation mandated blacks to stay in black hotels, but many cities did not have such

facilities. Many times, people stayed with friends and family to avoid any humiliation.

When Carrie traveled, she mostly stayed with friends and family.53

The State Medical Association, in an effort to maintain meetings on a more

regular basis and to garner support from the medical community and the black

community as a whole, announced its program in local newspapers. The ninth annual

session started on November 6, 1912, and took place in Daytona. The conference lasted

for two days and a majority of the leading black medical professionals attended the

52 Ibid., July 28, 1910; Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 36.
53 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, February 17, June 4, 1908, February 5, 1912; Walker, Leading the
Race, 52-53.

meetings. Most of the members present gave lectures on relevant topics they were

knowledgeable on. Due to the association's desire to have the organization act as a

stronger force in the community, the first lecture scheduled focused on the state of the

medical association. The paper, titled "The Defects that make for the Non-progress of

the Colored Medical Fraternity," dealt with the issues preventing the organization from

being more of a vital force in the medical community.54

Before the first lecture, members of the organization took a trip to the Girls'

Training School, where Mary McLeod Bethune acted as principal. Carrie, along with

other members of the medical organization, gave addresses to the students and faculty at

the school and to the members of the organization. Carrie showed a commitment to the

education of the younger generation and her willingness to share her knowledge with

others. Carrie gave a lecture titled "Anesthesia" and also sat on the panel that discussed

Dr. Arthur W. Smith's paper, "The Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Diphtheria."

Smith's paper proved useful to all because as the local paper reported, "Dr. Smith gave

valued information to his fellow physicians, aiding them in the quickest methods of

securing the latest and most improved medicines for this disease." Carrie would have

found this discussion useful because of her position as a pharmacist and physician.

Carrie benefited from the association because there she received information useful to her


54 Ibid., November 4, 9, 1912.
55 Ibid.; Jacksonville City Directory 1913,Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1913, 1127, available
at Florida State Archives; Jacksonville City Directory 1914, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers,
1914, 185, available at Florida State Archives; Ocala City Directory 1919, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co.,
Publishers, 1919, 151, available at Florida State Archives.

The organization, appreciative of Carrie's presence and knowledge, elected her

secretary of the association. She became the first woman on the executive board and

officiated with Dr. Henry Anderson of Jacksonville as president, Dr. R. Reche Williams

of Ocala as vice-president, and Dr. S. Means Plair of Jacksonville as treasurer. She held

a position that women normally held, playing a supportive role to the men on the

executive board, and assisting in the continuation of the organization.56

The State Medical Association met again in April 22, 1913, this time in the city of

Key West. There Carrie acted as secretary during the association's meeting. She took

part in the celebratory opening session by performing a solo. As secretary, she acted as a

leading member of the association and gave a speech on a topic in medicine. The

organization, impressed with her work, elected her to another term. She continued to use

the organization to expand her knowledge of medicine and to share with the medical

community and general public what she knew about her profession.57

Carrie believed in assisting and educating would-be doctors and nurses in the

black community. She gave speeches in schools in Ocala and in other cities in Florida.

The New York Age, reported that, "Dr. Carrie Mitchell of Ocala is giving a series of

lectures at the nurse training school of the Florida A. and M. College this week." She

taught the soon-to-be nurses on topics that would help them become better nurses and

expanded their knowledge of the medical profession.8

56 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, February 17, June 4, 1908, February 5, November 9, 1912; Monroe N
Work, Negro Yearbook and Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro, 1913, Tuskegee: Negro Year Book Co.,
1913, 242.
57 Work, Negro Yearbook, 242; New York Age, May 8, 1913; Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, April 18,
58 New York Age, January 30, 1913.

By 1915, knowledge of Carrie reached outside Florida. She had established

herself as a physician and her drug store thrived. She had to hire a staff of three clerks to

assist her in running the business. The black community of Ocala took such great pride

in her work that they made other states aware of the kind of woman that they had in

Carrie. The Indianapolis Freeman reported, "Dr. E. Carrie Mitchell, one of our worthy

lady physicians, is making good progress in her profession."59

Although her position in the medical organization remained constant, a big

change in Carrie's life occurred in that year. She married fellow Ocala citizen and

medical professional Leroy Hampton on November 12, 1915. Leroy, born near Santos,

Florida, came into the world on July 4, 1888. Like Carrie, he attended Howard Academy

and in later years, he matriculated at Meharry Medical College where he studied

dentistry. Although he came into his profession later than Carrie, he started his career in

dentistry soon after his graduation in the summer of 1912. The black community

welcomed him because the city lacked a black dentist. The Jacksonville Evening

Metropolis shared his progress with the black community by noting, "Dr. Lee Hampton

has fitted up his dental office in beautiful style." Due to the need for a dentist in Ocala,

he had a prosperous practice located at 122 W. Broadway. As one of the few blacks in

Ocala with higher education and as one of the few medical professionals in the city,

Carrie and Lee fostered a close relationship.60

59 Indianapolis Freeman, January 2, 23, 1915; Tuskegee Institute News Clippings File, Reel 15, 544,
available at Florida A & M University Library.
60 Marion County Marriage Records, Book 6, 231, available at Florida State Archives; Jacksonville
Evening Metropolis, July 27, 1912; Ocala City Directory 1919-1920, 181; Black Historical Organization, A
Struggle for Survival, 36.

The State Medical Association allowed Carrie and Leroy even more opportunities

to work together. Leroy, understanding that the organization could benefit greatly from

his position as one of a few dentists, actively participated in the association. During his

first year of practice, he took a leadership role in the organization. At the 1912

conference, he sat on the panel that discussed Miami dentist, John R. Scott's paper,

"Dental Surgery of Today." Even after only one year of practice, he received the

privilege of giving an address on "Orthodontia." A few years after Leroy established

himself as a dentist, he and Carrie started their life together.61

Although Carrie enjoyed practicing medicine, her desire to start and foster a

family forced her to reduce the time she spent in her role as physician. She moved out of

her parents' house and took on the responsibility of taking care of her new home. She

and Leroy lived at 851 South Magnolia. She lived in a large two-story house with a wrap

around porch. Soon after her marriage, she gave birth to her first child, LeRosa, around

1919. A few years later, she bore a son named Leroy.62

In order to be able to spend time with her children, Carrie limited seeing patients

to weekends. Carrie focused on her duties as a druggist and not on her position as a

physician. She knew that the black community could receive aid from the various black

physicians in the city. However, not many drug stores existed that catered to the black

community. Also, the additional staff at the drugstore enabled her to still work as a

61 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, November 4, 1912, April 18, 1913; Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in Negro
History in Florida, 4; Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 36; Miami City Directory
1912,Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 344, available at Florida State Archives.
62 Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 36; Ocala City Directory 1923, Jacksonville: R.
L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1923, 115, available at Florida State Archives; Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in
Negro History in Florida, 4; Family photographs, no date, Dr. Carrie Hampton Collection, Ocala Black
Archives and Museum.

pharmacist and spend time with her family. Even as Carrie's responsibilities grew as a

wife and mother, she never forgot about the needs of the black community.63

While Carrie reduced her time as a physician to work as a mother and wife, she

devoted more time to church and civic organizations. She became the organist at the

Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, the church she joined when she

married Leroy. She also participated in various auxiliary church groups. Her service to

the community did not end there. Carrie acted as the Daughter Ruler of the local lodge of

the Daughter of Elks and held a membership position in the Household of Ruth and the

American Woodmen. She also participated in the American Legion Auxiliary, the Lilly

White Security Benefit Association. She worked with the Red Cross and at polls during

election time. She continued working for the upliftment of her race by getting involved

in groups and organizations that assisted in ensuring the well being of the African

American community6

Carrie's life ended in December 13, 1964; when she passed, along with her family

legacy and the good work left in the memory of many, she left an estate estimated at

$50,000. At a time when most blacks lived and worked as part of the lower-class, barely

surviving, she reached heights that society said African-Americans and women could not

attain. While she worked in a profession, she exemplified the definition of womanhood,

believing in her role as a mother and wife and her work to the public. She used her

position in the black community as a physician, pharmacist, speaker, and organizational

63 Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 36; Ocala City Directory 1923, Jacksonville: R.
L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1923, 115; Johnson, "Ocala, Florida" in Negro History in Florida, 4.
64 Black Historical Organization, A Struggle for Survival, 36; Florida Women's Hall of Fame 1982
Nomination Form, 1982, Dr. Carrie Hampton Collection, available at Florida State Archives.

leader to provide for the community. Dr. Effie Carrie Mitchell Hampton's life serves as

an example of the type of work blacks have performed in America's past. She dedicated

her life to taking care of others and deserves to be remembered in the minds of Floridians

and all people alike, not only as the first black woman to practice medicine in Florida, but

as a great humanitarian who dedicated her life to her people.65

65 Dr. Carrie Hampton, Probate Records, December 31, 1964, available at Ocala Courthouse.

Woman's Work: The Life of Jerenia Reid, R.N.

Jerenia Reid, as the first black registered nurse in Florida, stands besides Dr. Effie

Carrie Mitchell Hampton as an important historical figure undisclosed to the world. Her

life, which began in post-Reconstruction Florida, is an example of the dedication and

commitment that African-Americans gave to the betterment of their people in a time

when the promise of freedom remained unfulfilled. As a woman of the middle-class, she

not only lived Victorian ideals of womanhood, but fully embodied the notion of working

to uplift the race by choosing a career in nursing. Jerenia used her position as a nurse to

improve the lives of African-Americans by fulfilling their healthcare needs.

Although Jerenia worked as the first black registered nurse in Florida, many other

black nurses came before her. African-American women had been working as nurses

since slavery. They handled each other's medical needs because larger society saw them

as property. Most especially, a great need for midwives existed because the institution of

slavery called for black women to supply the labor force. The dominant society never

classified the work that African-American women did as nursing, seeing it as part of their

duties as slaves. At slavery's end, black women could not enter the profession they had

developed years of skill in because the majority of schools in the North limited the

number of blacks they would accept into their programs, and schools in the South

completely prohibited access to blacks. These obstacles prevented large numbers of

black women from receiving education in nurse training, but allowed for a few blacks to

enter the profession.1

The first black graduate nurse, Mary Eliza Mahoney, took advantage of the

opportunity northern schools provided. She attended the New England Hospital for

Women and Children, admitted under the protocol that the school would only admit one

African-American and one Jewish student each year. She received her degree in 1879

and set the precedent for other black women who would come after her.2

After Mahoney started her nursing career, only a few black women graduated

from predominantly white institutions as she had. Some of these women graduated from

the New England Hospital for Women and Children, the New York Infirmary in New

York City, as well as the Washington General Hospital and Asylum Training School for

nurses in the District of Columbia. Although these white institutions gave blacks an

opportunity nonexistent in the South, their restrictive policy prevented black women from

meeting the healthcare needs of their community.3

The lack of nursing programs for black women stood as part of the bigger crisis of

insufficient healthcare for African-Americans. The larger society did not meet the

medical needs of the black community because they saw African-Americans as second-

class citizens, not deserving of attention or care. The health conditions of African-

Americans gave evidence to this fact. African-Americans had higher mortality and

morbidity rates than whites. They caught communicable diseases such as tuberculosis,

1 Carnegie, Path We Tread, 1, 5-9, 17-19; Hine, Black Women in White, 1-6. On Mary E. Mahoney, see M.
E. Chayer, "Mary Eliza Mahoney," American Journal of Nursing 54.
2 Carnegie, Path We Tread, 1, 5-9, 17-19; Hine, Black Women in White, 1-6.
3 Carnegie, Path We Tread, 17-20; Hine, Black Women in White, 9-10.

pneumonia, influenza, typhoid fever, and malaria at a faster rate and died from these

ailments. Although both the black and white communities had high infant mortality

during this period, especially in the South, blacks faced a greater loss. These conditions

propelled the black community to demand that African-Americans have better access to


Since segregation took hold in the South, African-Americans had to have their

own medical institutions in order to receive adequate medical attention. Fortunately,

some wealthy businesspersons aided the African-American community in this endeavor.

For instance, funding for the first black nursing program came from the Rockefellers.

The nursing program existed as part of the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, the first

college for black women. The school opened in 1881 and the nursing program started

operating in 1886. Soon after the establishment of the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary

(later renamed Spelman College in honor of Mrs. Rockefeller), other black nurse training

programs opened to the black community. In 1891, the Provident Hospital School of

Nursing in Chicago and the Dixie Hospital Training School in Virginia commenced

operation. The following year, the Tuskegee Institute began accepting students. By

1907, twelve nurse training programs for blacks had been established.

The establishment of nurse training programs benefited the black community

because it enabled many black women to enter the profession. Professional nursing

became a way for women to actively participate in uplifting the race. It allowed women

to contribute directly to the improvements of the black community by seeing to the

4 Hine, Black Women in White, 7-9.
5 Carnegie, Path We Tread, 20-23; Hine, Black Women in White, 8-9.

physical well-being of black people. Jerenia worked in this capacity, using her skills to

provide for the medical needs of the black community in Jacksonville and throughout the

United States.6

Jerenia's life began in the city of Jacksonville, one of Florida's largest

metropolitan areas. Located on the state's northeast corer on the St. Johns River, the

city grew prosperous due to the development of industries and benefited greatly from

tourism. A large black population existed in the area ready to take advantage of the city's

economic opportunities, but the presence of white supremacy hindered the progress

blacks could make. However, a small black middle-class did emerge and members of the

black elite worked in education, medicine, business, ministry, and law. They gave

evidence to what blacks could achieve even under the pressure of white supremacy.7

Although many African-Americans participated in the economic and social life of

Jacksonville, many affluent blacks lived outside of the city's limits in the community of

LaVilla. African-Americans started settling in the town after the Civil War because of its

close proximity to jobs in Jacksonville and its low cost of living. Employment in hotels,

at the port, and in the timber, construction, and railroad industries cemented the attraction

of African-Americans in search of a new home. James Weldon Johnson, future executive

director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and author

6 Moore, Leading the Race, 140-147; Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South, 12-14, 30-31;
Hine, Black Women in White, 26-29.
7 Nathan Mayo, The Seventh Census of the State of Florida, 1945, Tallahassee: Florida Department of
Agriculture, 1945, 83; Boston Daily Advertiser, March 11, 1868, quoted in Canter Brown, Jr., Ossian
Bingley Hart, Florida's Loyalist Reconstruction Governor, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1997, 25; Brown, Florida's Black Public Officials, 42, 54; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 29; Davis, History of
Jacksonville, 149-231.

of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," numbered among those to whom LaVilla offered a home

during the period. From this community, Jerenia came into the world.

Jerenia was born to Tillman and Mary Ann Valentine, prominent members of the

Jacksonville African-American community. Tillman represented well the middle-class.

Originally from Pennsylvania, he came to Florida as a soldier in the Union army. In

accord with other African-American soldiers, he stayed in Florida after the end of the

Civil War. His last appointment found him in Gainesville and, after his discharge, he

moved within a year or two toward the Gulf Coast at or near the railroad terminal at

Cedar Key. He quickly took on a prominent role in the African-American community

with his appointment in 1867 as Levy County's black voter registrar. After his term in

office ended, he relocated up the Florida Railroad to his old station at Gainesville where

he remained for three or four years. After his second time in Gainesville, now as a

civilian and not an officer, he decided to settle in LaVilla.9

During the decade leading up to Jerenia's birth, Tillman elevated his personal

standing and that of his family to the highest ranks of the black middle-class. As a

carpenter by trade, he benefited from Jacksonville's rapid growth. He utilized his skills

well and he soon emerged not only as an artisan but also as a contractor. He had acquired

land while in Gainesville and also in the city of Jacksonville. Tillman prospered from his

trade and reached a financial level that most blacks could not attain. His prosperous

8 Patricia L. Kenney, "LaVilla, Florida, 1866-1887: Reconstruction Dreams and the Formation of a Black
Community" in The African American Heritage of Florida, ed. by David R. Colburn and Jane L. Landers,
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995, 185-206; Johnson, Along This Way, 56; Bartley, Keeping the
Faith, 11-12.
9 New York Freemen, August 18, 1883; Kenney, "LaVilla", 188-190; 1880 United States Census,
Jacksonville, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives; Bartley, Keeping the Faith,

ventures and land ownership placed him as an important figure in the African-American


Not long after Tillman made LaVilla his permanent home, he decided to start a

family. He married Mary Ann Francis on November 30, 1865. Their first child, Sarah,

came into the world in 1872. A son, William, followed in 1873, and then another

daughter, Panchita, was born in 1875. Jerenia, the youngest child, came into the world

years later in 1879."

As Tillman's responsibilities grew with the birth of his children, so too did his

social standing in the black community, seen in his active role in the black Masons.

Tillman reached the level of Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Colored

Masons in 1884. He also participated in the Grand Masonic Convention in New York in

April of that year, the largest Masonic gathering at the time, representing his community

in Jacksonville. Whether in economics or social activities, the community felt Tillman's


Due to his efforts in the Civil War, Tillman had the privilege of being selected as

a delegate for the county convention, where those in political office would choose a

candidate for the State Senate and House. He represented his community, although only

for a short while, before whites completely eradicated black public officials from

10 Jacksonville Florida Weekly Times, October 18, 1888; Brown, Florida's Black Public Officials, 133-34;
Alachua County Deed Records, Book H, 80; New York Globe, April 5, 1884; Florida Times-Union,
January 20, 1884, September 10, 1886.
" 1880 United States Census; 1885 Florida Census, Duval County, population schedule, available at
Florida State Archives; Alachua County Marriage License Record 3, available at Alachua County
12 Brown, Florida's Black Public Officials, 133-34; New York Globe, April 5, 1884; Florida Times-Union,
January 20, 1884, September 10, 1886; Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 13.

government. Tillman played a leading role in the economics, social life, and politics of

Jacksonville's black community. As a member of the black elite, he held a place of

prominence in the city.13

As the daughter of parents with such local prominence and prosperity, Jerenia

benefited from a middle-class status. She had access to education and lived in an area

with public and private institutions for African-Americans. Although evidence does not

reveal what school she attended, most likely, Jerenia matriculated at Stanton Institute

because her sister, Panchita, graduated from that institution. Panchita graduated on June

9, 1891, with the support of the black community who came out in large numbers to the

celebration. Panchita stood out to the community because she gave an address to the

audience. The local newspaper noted, "Panchita N. Valentine then laid the block called

'Excelsior,' and told in fine language of the great things that ambition could accomplish."

Panchita's graduation shows that the Valentines believed in the opportunities that

education would bring their children.14

Although education laid the foundation for Jerenia's future profession, her

environment also would have had an impact on her life. The yellow fever epidemic of

1888 affected Jerenia and the whole Jacksonville community. That year's onset of the

dreaded "yellow jack" hit Florida's eastern coast and proved particularly deadly at

Jacksonville. Understanding the damage the disease could cause, when officials found

the first documented case at the Mayflower Hotel, authorities condemned the building

and ordered it to be burned. Meanwhile, the medical community could not determine the

3 Jacksonville Florida Weekly Times, October 18, 1888; Brown, Florida's Black Public Officials, 133-34;
Alachua County Deed Records, Book H, 80.
14 Florida Times-Union, June 9, 1891.

cause nor provide a cure. Residents, free from the disease and with financial means, left

the city in large numbers. The remaining members of the community confined

themselves to their homes after authorities ordered quarantine. Life in Jacksonville

changed abruptly. Social interactions came to a standstill because church and community

activities ceased. The cessation of business transactions depressed the economy. At the

epidemic's peak, the death toll reached in the hundreds. Survivors buried bodies of

family members and neighbors in mass graves.1

The 1888 yellow fever outbreak struck Jerenia with particular force because the

disease almost took her father's life. The local newspaper listed Tillman as a fever victim

on October 8th. The degree of his suffering remains a mystery, but most likely, the

Valentine family feared the worst. Fortunately, Tillman recovered and the family did not

have to deal with the loss other families endured. Soon, Jacksonville returned to the

bustling southern town it previously had been.16

Unfortunately, death eventually caught up with the Valentines because on March

12, 1895, Tillman passed away. The Valentines, as well as the black community of

Jacksonville, mourned because they had lost a man of stature who represented the great

progress that blacks had registered in their city. The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, a

white newspaper, reflected broader sentiments when it described him as "an old and

respected citizen." He--the veteran soldier, public servant, and businessman--was buried

with Masonic honors and high ceremony by the members of his lodge." Many people in

15 Johnson, Along This Way, 90-92; 1880 United States Census; Tebeau and Marina, A History ofFlorida,
16Jacksonville Florida Weekly Times, October 18, 1888; Johnson, Along This Way, 90-92; Tebeau and
Marina, A History of Florida, 273-274.

the community attended his funeral, and because of his position in the Masons, other

fraternal orders and benevolent societies joined to pay respect to him.7

The record does not reveal how the Valentine's coped with his death. Clearly,

though, Jerenia eventually moved in with her sister, Panchita, and her brother-in-law,

John H. Thompson. Panchita had left the Valentine household when she married John in

1899. John hailed from Alabama and settled with his wife in Jacksonville where they

both worked as teachers. Jerenia remained in their home until 1900, during which time

she finished her secondary education. Evidence still needs to be uncovered to explain the

whereabouts of her mother and siblings. However, evidence does show that upon

graduating from high school, Jerenia embarked on a journey that took her out of

Jacksonville, at least for the time being.'8

Jerenia left her lifetime home to pursue professional nurse training in the nation's

capital. The Freedman's Hospital, where she studied, already could claim credit as a

historical institution that marked an evolutionary period in the United States. Established

in 1862 by the Secretary of War, it served the great number of blacks looking for freedom

who moved into the city during the Civil War. Dr. Alexander T. Augusta, a major and

surgeon in the United States Army, took charge of the facility. One of six black doctors

in the army, he became the first black man to head a hospital. After the Civil War, in

17 Jacksonville Florida Times-Union, March 13, 1895.
18 1900 United States Census; Jacksonville City Directory 1901,Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers,
1901, 424, available at Florida State Archives; Jacksonville City Directory 1902, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk
& Co., Publishers, 1902, 491, available at Florida State Archives; Duval County Marriage Records, Book
5, 155; 1920 United States Census, Jacksonville, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State

1868, the hospital also became a teaching institution with the addition of the Howard

University Medical School.19

By 1900, the hospital had seen various improvements and continued to reach out

to the black community as a teaching institute and as a place that provided care to

African-Americans. However, because the institution catered to the black community,

the government did not readily give the hospital funding to upgrade when needed. Dr.

Austin M. Curtis, the surgeon-in-chief in 1900, in previous years had submitted requests

for electric lighting because he believed it would be more efficient than gas and necessary

in the operating room where poor lighting made it difficult to work. However, it took

years before the government approved his request. Although the existence of the hospital

proved that African-Americans had made great progress, society still looked at them as

second-class citizens.20

In order to establish the Freedmen's Hospital and Howard University Medical

School as leading healthcare institutions, administrators inaugurated a nursing program

called the Freedmen's Hospital Training School for Nurses on November 15, 1894. The

program originally encompassed an eighteen-month course that "[consisted] of lectures,

recitation, and practical work in the wards of the hospital." Soon, officials extended the

regimen to two years. Nurses received training in such skills as dressing wounds and

application of poultices and leeches; the management of helpless patients; the best

method of friction to the body and extremities; the practical methods of caring for a sick

room; making accurate report and observation of patients; and many others duties. The

19 Ward, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South, 3-6; Watson, Against the Odds, 22-23.
20 Report of the Freedmen's Hospital to the Secretary ofthe Interior 1900, Washington D.C.: Government
Printing Office, 1900), 5-6, available at the Library of Congress.

Freedmen's Hospital ensured that its students would be as prepared as they needed to be

in order to perform their duties as nurses when they left the program.21

Before Jerenia could be accepted into the program, like other students, she had to

meet certain requirements. She had to be between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five.

She needed a letter from a physician stating she had good health and she had to fill out an

application, answering questions in the way the school desired. After the program

accepted Jerenia, she endured a one-month probation period during which she took

courses in reading, penmanship, simple arithmetic, and English dictation. Also, during

the probation period, the school housed Jerenia at no cost to her, but she did not receive

monetary compensation since she had not been fully accepted into the program. This

period of time allowed the faculty to observe if Jerenia had the discipline to continue with

the rigorous program. After the end of her probation period, the superintendent had the

authority to decide if Jerenia should continue with her coursework, or if she would be

dismissed. Due to her performance, the school allowed Jerenia to carry on with the


Jerenia officially began the nursing program after she signed a contract dedicating

herself to the eighteen months of study, and agreeing to adhere to the school's rules and

regulations. She served her first nine months as a pupil-nurse and worked as an assistant

in the wards of the Freedmen's Hospital. In her second nine months, she performed

21 Howard University, The Catalogue of Officers and Students from March 1900 to March 1901,
Washington, D.C.: Industrial Department of Howard University, 1902, 20-22, available at Moorland
Spingarn Research Center and Archives; Report of the Freedmen's Hospital to the Secretary of the Interior
1900, 8-9.
22 Howard University, Catalogue of Officers and Students, 20-21; Report of the Freedmen's Hospital to the
Secretary of the Interior 1900, 8-9.

whatever duties the superintendent assigned to her. She either worked as a nurse in the

hospital or acted as a nurse overseeing private cases in the homes of the rich and poor of

the city. Her work hours ran from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., allowing little time for leisure

and ensuring her preparation for a career in nursing.23

Understanding the financial difficulties that many of its students faced due to their

educational undertaking or just from their position as black women, the administrators

provided every student with the necessities needed to perform her duties. In accordance

with policy, the school provided Jerenia with a cap, text-books, and five dollars a month

to spend as she wished. To explain the monetary compensation, the school stated that,

"this money is not given as pay for services rendered, as the training given and the

profession acquired is considered an ample equivalent, but simply to enable young

women without pecuniary resources to enter upon their professional career free of


The nurse training program as part of a hospital benefited Jerenia greatly because

it gave her clinical experience. As the only hospital catering to blacks in the metro area,

patients with various ailments went there. The hospital saw a large number of typhoid

fever and, surprisingly, cancer cases. Surgeon-in-Chief Curtis found this important

because, as he stated, "The relatively large number of cases of cancer in this department

is remarkable since the prevailing opinion has been that the descendants of the African

23 Ibid.; Thorns, Pathfinders, 37-38.
24 Howard University, Catalogue of Officers and Students, 20-21; Report of the Freedmen's Hospital to the
Secretary of the Interior 1900, 8-9.

race were rarely affected with the disease." Jerenia received practical training that

allowed her to establish herself as a nurse upon her graduation.25

Jerenia began her training under Surgeon-in-Chief Curtis and Superintendent

Sarah C. Ebersole but finished the program under Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. William A.

Warfield and Superintendent and Directress Sarah I. Fleetwood. As Jerenia's immediate

supervisor, Fleetwood merits further comment. Fleetwood stood as a member of the first

class to complete Freedmen's nursing program in 1896. She graduated third in her class

of seventeen students. Many of her classmates went on to leadership positions in the

field. For instance, graduate Lucy V. Ashton became superintendent of nurses at Douglas

Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. On the other hand, Fleetwood returned to the

Freedmen's Hospital after Sarah C. Ebersole, her superintendent, retired in 1900;

Fleetwood began her position as superintendent on February 1, 1901.26

Beyond the nursing program and its superintendent, the city of Washington also

touched Jerenia profoundly. In 1900, it furnished a home for a large black middle-class.

In earlier times, this economic stratum had been composed predominantly of clergymen

and teachers, but, by the early twentieth century, it had expanded to include

businesspersons and professionals. This shift had occurred because blacks had taken

advantage of opportunities in academia, permitting them to train in a variety of

occupations. Members of this class subsequently gained power and high social standing

with their education and accumulation of wealth. Howard University particularly

allowed blacks access to wealth by providing educational opportunities in law and

25 Ibid.
26 Ibid.; Washington (D.C.) Colored American, May 9, 1903; Thorns, Pathfinders, 37-38; Washington Bee,
May 2, 1903.

medicine. Besides the nursing program, the Freedmen's Hospital held importance to the

black community because it was one of a few hospitals where black doctors could intern.

Individuals used these institutions as vehicles to reach a status that the majority of blacks

could not easily attain.27

Jerenia, like many other members of her class, utilized opportunities available to

advance herself. She used education to benefit herself and her race. Jerenia completed

her coursework and graduated from the Freedmen's nursing program on May 4, 1903.

The class of fourteen received their diplomas at a commencement ceremony held at the

Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on the campus of Howard University. The African-

American community celebrated the students' accomplishments and Fleetwood's success

as the first black superintendent to take "sole charge" of the nursing program. As the

Colored American, a city newspaper, reported: "Fully an hour before the time fixed for

the ceremonies to begin, the friends began to gather, so that at the hour of commencing

every seat in the chapel was filled." The ceremony proved a community affair because of

the importance of education to the black community. It signified progress and showed

that the younger generation would continue the work of uplifting the black race that the

older generation had begun. It also illustrated to white society that black people

possessed the intellectual capacity and aspirations to succeed in professional endeavors.28

Jerenia, being well prepared to start on her professional career, began working

soon after graduating from the program, ready to embark on her career as the first black

registered nurse in Florida. Understanding the needs of her home community, Jerenia

27 Moore, Leading the Race, 133, 140-141; Gatewood, Aristocrats of Color, 39-68.
28 Washington Bee, May 2, 1903; Washington (D. C.) Colored American, May 9, 1903; Neverdon-Morton,
Afro-American Women of the South, 6-7.

moved back to Jacksonville, where public health issues continued to hinder the black

community. In the recent past, Jacksonville had been plagued with numerous epidemics

from yellow fever to typhoid and smallpox. In the year that Jerenia returned, the city had

a high level of contagious diseases caused by environmental factors; the humid weather

and frequent rain that often led to flooding, and constant presence of insects made the city

susceptible to communicable diseases. Unfortunately, the lack of a proper sanitation

system, which translated into the presence of stagnant water in many areas in the city, an

open sewer system, rotting garbage, and dead carcasses decaying on the streets, fueled

the spread of diseases.29

These conditions affected all of Jacksonville but the black community especially.

In 1900, the whole city of Jacksonville had a mortality rate of 28.6 deaths per 1,000

people, while the black community alone had a mortality rate of 57.2 deaths per 1,000

people. To improve these conditions, the city undertook serious changes. The city built

more buildings of brick, improved the sewer system by expanding it with an improved

drainage system, and placed bulkheads along the river.30

Although these changes improved the city, they did not greatly affect the African-

American community because the mortality rate remained at 50% higher than the general

population and the number of blacks that died each year remained greater than the

number of black babies born. In fact, many of the changes made did not occur in black

neighborhoods. Most African-American communities did not have city water or sewers,

and the outhouses and privies blacks used were breeding grounds for insects. Since many

29 Crooks, Jacksonville After the Fire, 50-52. Bartley, Keeping the Faith, 14-15.
30 Ibid.

blacks lived in poverty, they could not afford screens to keep insects away or healthy

diets and medical care to combat illnesses that plagued them. Without the city making

public health improvements in black neighborhoods, the health of African-Americans

continued to decline.31

When Jerenia returned home, she received a warm welcome because African-

Americans understood there existed a need for more black professionals in healthcare

since no registered nurse had worked in the city before her. As the Jacksonville Evening

Metropolis announced on July 27, 1903: "Several inducements are being made to have

Miss Jerina Valentine, the graduated nurse to remain in Jacksonville. This is her native

home and there is no reason why she should not do well here in her profession." By

December 10, as the newspaper also reported, Jerenia secured work. "Miss Gerin

Valentine, the trained nurse is now attending a patient in Riverside," the Metropolis

observed, "where she is giving full attention under the direction of Dr. Mitchell." Due to

the needs of the Jacksonville community and Jerenia's desire to make a difference, she

gained experience in her first year as a nurse.32

As a nurse, Jerenia worked closely with local doctors including one doctor she

assisted, Dr. Joseph David Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell, a veteran member of Jacksonville's

medical community and leader in the local white medical association, assisted Jerinia in

securing work. Mitchell hired Jerenia to nurse his patients in the local hospital and in

their private homes. The Jacksonville Metropolis supported this fact on March 11, 1905

with the announcement that "Miss J. L. Valentine, the trained nurse, left the city last

31 Ibid.
32 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, July 27, December 10, 1903.

night for Tampa, to take charge of a case of typhoid fever for Dr. Mitchell." Ten days

later the newspaper again gave mention of her movement. "Miss Jerena L. Valentine, the

graduate nurse," its item declared, "is attending a case at the Magnolia Hotel, at Magnolia

Springs under Dr. Mitchell." With Mitchell's help, Jerenia gained the experience that

made her not just the first black nurse in Florida, but a well-respected nurse in the city.33

Jerenia's profession also afforded her opportunities not given to the majority of

blacks and women during that time. Jerenia's position sometimes called for her to live in

the homes of her patients while nursing them back to health. Occasionally, she lived in

the homes of whites, and, unlike most blacks, she interacted with them more as a

professional than as a servant. Local news organs proudly reported such visitations.

Surely those reports countered stereotypes about black inferiority so often espoused in

society. "Miss Geneva L. Valentine, the graduate trained nurse," one proclaimed on

February 8, 1904, "is now located at No. 228 Caroline Street, at the home of Mr. and

Mrs. Tutson." The range of her experiences, though, extended broadly. Beyond gaining

experience in in-home care and nursing patients in the hospital, Jerenia received the

opportunity to work as a surgical nurse, and after completing such a task, the community

praised her publicly. Essentially, Jerenia became an important figure in the black and

white communities in Jacksonville because her work touched the lives of so many


As Jerenia continued to grow in her profession, she experienced a change in her

personal life with her upcoming marriage to Charles A. Dial. The black elite supported

33 Ibid., February 8, December 30, 1904.
34 Ibid.

the institution of marriage, and as a member of this class, Jerenia would have adhered to

this idea. The black aristocracy saw marriage as a necessary tool in maintaining their

social and economic status and as a way of proving to white society that they had

traditional values. They wanted to show that African-Americans too believed in

marriage, children, and building a safe and prosperous community; like whites, they too

were deserving of happiness.35

Jerenia's profession understandably afforded her prominence, and her marriage to

Dial in 1906 cemented her upper-class status within the Jacksonville African American

community. Charles at the time worked as a porter for the Southern Express Company, a

Georgia corporation organized by Henry Bradley Plant. Charles's position placed him in

contact with important figures, even leaders of the United States. Charles's

responsibilities included overseeing the sleeping cars of whites and blacks and facilitating

the pick up and delivery of goods. He held a well-respected position in the black


Jerenia and Charles married on December 12, 1906. The couple exchanged their

vows at the home of family friends General and Mrs. Taylor, with the ceremony taking

place in the parlor under an arch of evergreens. The bridal party included friends such as

Gusster Randall and Arthur E. Campbell. Jerenia's sister, Panchita, substituted for their

father by undertaking the responsibility of walking Jerenia down the aisle. The Evening

Metropolis described Jerenia as "a handsome bride [of] commanding height and of rare

35 Moore, Leading the Race, 38-40; Gatewood, Aristocrats, 190-192.
36 Personal interview, Canter Brown, Jr. by the author, October 18, 2005, notes in collection of the author;
Canter Brown, Jr., Henry Bradley Plant: The Nineteenth Century "King ofFlorida", Tampa: Henry B.
Plant Museum, 1999, 2-19.

beauty of figure, her fashionably fitting gown of white chiffon, with hand embroided

chrysanthemums, with veil draped from the rear made her the object of universal

compliments." Jerenia certainly left an impression on the townspeople. Her wedding

served as an example of her status and economic standing.37

Additional details of the event reinforced that perception. Jerenia's wedding

brought out many members of the community who wanted to experience the joyous

event. "The parlor halls and porch [were] crowded," observed a published report. The

couple received over three-hundred gifts from those in attendance. In the process, the

community of Jacksonville expressed thanks to Jerenia for her valuable presence in the


After Jerenia and Charles legalized their union, they lived at 711 West Church

Street. Although it cannot be determined what kind of house they lived in, their purchase

of a new icebox, a luxury to say the least, two years after their marriage, speaks to their

economic stability. Jerenia and Charles made an even more important addition to their

household with the birth of their daughter, Valentine. In later years, Jerenia added a baby

boy, Charles Jr., to their family.39

Unfortunately, negative circumstances befell the Dial family that forever changed

the course of Jerenia's life. In late 1910, Charles became ill and by November, he had

37 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, December 13, 1906; Duval County Marriage Records, Book 10, 426,
available at Florida Archives.
3 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, December 13, 1906.
39 Ibid., December 13, 1906, April 7 1908; Jacksonville City Directory 1908, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk &
Co., Publishers, 1908, 276, available at Florida State Archives; Jacksonville City Directory 1909,
Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1909, 323, available at Florida State Archives; Jacksonville City
Directory 1910, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1910, 360, available at Florida State Archives;
1910 United States Census, Jacksonville, Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives.

passed away. The black community mourned the loss of Charles and supported Jerenia

and her family as she dealt with the death of her husband. Jerenia's occupation forced

her to deal with death; however, the loss of her husband still would have been difficult to

bear. However, Jerenia proceeded with life and continued to give a needed service to the


Jerenia's whereabouts from 1911 to 1915 remain a mystery. Neither the 1910

United States Census nor the local directory indicated her location. However, she

resurfaced in Jacksonville during 1915, at least insofar as local records indicate. On

August 30, 1915, she married Leon S. Reid in Jacksonville. Little documentation on their

union has survived. The city directory did not list them as residents and reports on their

activities have yet to be uncovered in newspapers such as the Jacksonville Evening

Metropolis. Sadly, this marriage also ended after a short period of time. Leon enlisted in

the army for service during World War One. His assignment took him to France where

he fought as a first class private with the 369th Infantry. Unfortunately, he never left

Europe because he became a casualty of war. He died on November 15, 1918, in an

automobile accident that crushed his skull. Like many soldiers, initially, authorities

could not identify his body, so he rested in an unmarked grave in the French military

cemetery, Commune Viller Alsac. After the war, the military discovered their error and

had his body exhumed and relocated to Meuse-Argonne in France. For the second time in

40Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, April 7 1908, November 11, 1910; Jacksonville City Directory 1908,
276; Jacksonville City Directory 1909, 323; Jacksonville City Directory 1910, 360.

her life, Jerenia lost her husband. However, she did not let her personal circumstances

prevent her from sustaining herself and providing for her family and community.41

Again, a curtain obscures Jerenia's activities for several years. At Leon's death in

1918, Jerenia had reached thirty-nine years of age and had worked in the nursing field for

sixteen years. When she reappeared in the 1920 Jacksonville city directory, the

publication listed her as registered nurse.42

Her status as a veteran professional and the desire to make further gains in her

career most likely drew Jerenia in the early 1920s to play an active role in the National

Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). Since the organization had been in

operation since 1908 and she had been a nurse since 1903, she could have joined the

organization in its early years. Martha M. Franklin, a graduate nurse, originally headed

the organization. She graduated from the Women's Hospital in Philadelphia as the only

black woman in her class. Interested in the working conditions that black women faced,

she gathered data on the issue, and her findings propelled her to call a meeting to discuss

the problems that black women encountered. Fifty-two graduate nurses attended the

meeting in New York City in 1908, and it resulted in the founding of the NACGN. Their

purpose was: "to advance the standards and best interests of trained nurses, to break

down the discriminatory practices facing Negroes in schools of nursing, in jobs, and in

41 Duval County Marriage Records, Book 23, 113; List of Mothers and Widows ofAmerican Soldiers,
Sailors, and Marines Entitled to Make a Pilgrimage to War Cemeteries in Europe, Washington, D.C.:
Government Printing Office, 1930, 158; Report of Disinterment and Reburial, December 27, 1922, Records
of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Cemeterial Division, Leon S. Reid's File, available at the
National Archives.
42 Jacksonville City Directory 1920, Jacksonville: R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers, 1920, 983, available
Florida State Archives.

nursing organizations; and to develop leadership among Negro nurses." In later years,

the group developed an organized program and launched regional associations.43

The organization proved important to black nurses because it allowed them to

come together as a group and fight for their rights. It gave them a voice, enabling them to

be heard. In the majority of southern states, African-American women could not join the

State Nurses Association (SNA). Unfortunately, a requirement of the American Nurses

Association (ANA) stipulated nurses had to be a member of the SNA. The National

League of Nursing Education (NLNE) also denied admission to blacks. African-

American nurses had no organization to speak for them and to defend them against

discrimination; they did not have the same opportunities as white women. Generally,

black nurses could only work in black hospitals or the segregated unit dedicated for

blacks in public institutions. Unfortunately, not many opportunities in private duty

existed for them. The NACGN worked diligently to create opportunities for black

women and helped them maintain their dignity and respect in the profession.4

By 1915, the nurses of Jacksonville had established a local chapter of the

NACGN. Due to the Boylan Nurse Training Program and the Brewster Hospital,

Jacksonville had more black nurses working in the city than when Jerenia started in her

profession. Most likely, black nurses would have understood the importance of

43 Staupers, No Time for Prejudice, 5-19; Carnegie, the Path We Tread, 92-94; National Association of
Colored Graduate Nurses Records, The NACGN Collection, 1-3, microfilm, available at Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture.
44 Staupers, No Time for Prejudice, 15; Davis, Early Black American Leaders in Nursing, 75; National
Association of Colored Graduate Nurses Records, 1-3.

organizing. The black nurses of Jacksonville actively participated in the NACGN and

represented well the work of the organization.45

As illustrated by a series of events that occurred in 1925, the black nurses of

Jacksonville participated in the NACGN's local chapter with Jerenia playing a leading

role. Importantly, in August 1925 the city hosted the NACGN's Annual Meeting at

Jerenia's house. The gathering represented a typical session. Before the group began

with business matters, its members joined in prayer and the singing of a hymn. Next on

the agenda came the reading of the previous year's minutes, followed by presentations on

issues facing the black community given by healthcare officials. On August 8, Jerenia

conducted a memorial service dedicated to the nurses who had died that year. In so

doing, she demonstrated her appreciation for the selfless women who spent their lives

serving the community. At that year's meeting, the NACGN recognized Jerenia's hard

work by electing her national recording secretary.46

Jerenia's professional opportunities expanded considerably about the time that she

received her position with the NACGN. In 1926, she accepted an appointment as

superintendent at Pine Ridge Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida Pine Ridge served

the black community as the first black hospital in the five south Florida counties. It had

opened on April 15, 1916, with money raised by black residents, who continued to

support the hospital. The permanent staff members consisted of three black doctors and

two dentists, assisted by white doctors who had expertise in areas the permanent staff

lacked. Although the presence of the hospital represented progress for the black

45 Jacksonville Evening Metropolis, October 24, 1915.
46 The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, meeting minutes, August 1925, hereafter,
NACGN minutes.

community, it did not contribute greatly to the welfare of African-Americans because of

its inadequacies.47

Pine Ridge lacked necessary equipment, but more importantly, its operating room

proved problematic because of poor ventilation. The premises did not have a darkroom,

so the development of x-rays occurred in a makeshift facility under the stairwell. The

lack of a standard elevator forced staff members and patients to pull themselves up to the

second floor in a dumb waiter, a small elevator used to send goods from one floor to

another. Although the hospital was not a prestigious institution, it provided a leadership

opportunity for Jerenia. Most likely she heard of the superintendent position from Petra

Pinn, who acted as NACGN president in that year, but had worked as superintendent of

Pine Ridge Hospital from 1916 until 1926, when Jerenia took charge.48

Mutual involvement in the NAGCN most likely brought Jerenia and Petra

together. Travel broadened and deepened Jerenia's network of colleagues and friends,

and her position in the NACGN took her outside of Florida on an annual basis. The first

national meeting she attended as recording secretary took place in 1926 in Philadelphia.

The gathering stood out in Jerenia's career because active members re-elected her

recording secretary. She defeated her opponent forty-seven votes to five.49

Jerenia's term in the NACGN lasted longer than her term at Pine Ridge. In 1927,

the year after becoming superintendent of that hospital, Jerenia attended the NACGN

47 Palm Beach Post, March 1, 1999, October 10, 2000; Thorns, Pathfinders, 222; The Freedmen, February
27, 1918; New York City Tribune, February 29, 1924; 1920 United States Census, West Palm Beach,
Florida, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives; NACGN minutes.
48 Palm Beach Post, March 1, 1999, October 10, 2000; Thorns, Pathfinders, 222; The Freedmen, February
27, 1918; New York City Tribune, February 29, 1924; 1920 United States Census; NACGN minutes, 1926.
49 NACGN minutes, 1926.

Annual Meeting held at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. She acted as recording

secretary, although she now represented the community of Greensboro, North Carolina,

not West Palm Beach. In the year that had intervened between meetings, she had

accepted the position of superintendent at L. Richardson Memorial Hospital in her new

home which saw her in charge of the hospital's nursing staff and nurse training program.

All the work she had done since she graduated from the Freedman's Hospital's nurse

training program prepared her for such a responsibility.50

Jerenia gladly informed the NACGN of her new position. A report of the session

synopsized her comments as follows: "[There is] a magnificent new hospital gifted by the

Richardson family and other donors for the hospitalization of Negroes in Greensboro, N.

C. known as the L. Richardson Mems. Hospital of which she was appointed

superintendent. She also spoke of the splendid equipment, the training school and the

friendly relationship existing between the two races in N. C." In addition, the hospital

housed leaders in the field of surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, and neurology.

Jerenia fully embraced the work and reward the opportunity presented.5

Through her movement across different states, Jerenia remained constant in the

NACGN. In 1928, she attended the annual meeting hosted by the local chapter in New

Orleans. Although members elected her for another term, Jerenia resigned from her

position as recording secretary. The minutes stated that, "[She] resigned because she had

an extremely busy year before her and felt she could no longer serve." This signified the

end of Jerenia's term of service as a member of the NACGN's executive board. She had

50 NACGN minutes, 1927; Greensboro (N.C.) News, May 10, 1927; Journal of the National Medical
Association May 1969 Volume 61 No 3, 205-28.
51 Ibid.

played a vital role in an organization that fought for the rights of black nurses. Jerenia

dedicated her life to serving others and her terms in the NACGN allowed her to perform

that duty in politics as well as nursing.52

Jerenia's withdrawal from the NACGN's executive board did not signify the end

of her career. She continued to act as a member of the organization and also continued to

work in her profession. By 1928, records show she held the position of superintendent of

the People's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Records do not show when she retired from

nursing, but by 1936 she resided in Washington, D.C. In the next year, she became one

of the founding members of the Wake Robin Golf Club, an all-black female club that

played a leading role in desegregating the city's public golf courses. In later years, the

club furthered the movement that caused the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to

accept black golfers and assisted organizations such as the United Golfers Association

(UGA) to put on tournaments specifically for black golfers. Doubtless, Jerenia

contributed to the progress of the black community in many ways.53

Jerenia Valentine Dial Reid lived a life full of momentous achievements. She

made progress in the hostile and stifling climate of the South, a climate not conducive to

the intellectual and economic growth of its black citizens, and she became the first black

registered nurse in Florida. Jerenia used her position as a member of the elite to serve the

black community in a great way. Her hard work and dedication propelled her to the top

52 Thorns, Pathfinders, 224-225; NACGN minutes, 1928.
53 Ethel Williams, interview by Eleanor DesVenex-Senet, Moorland Spingarn's Oral Historian, December
12-13, 2005, The Wake Robin Golf Club Collection, available at Moorland Spingarn Research Center and
Archives; Jerenia Reid, letter to the Cemeterial Division of the War Department, July 29, 1929, Records of
the Office of the Quartermaster General, Cemeterial Division, Leon S. Reid's File; 1930 United States
Census, St. Louis, Missouri, population schedule, available at Florida State Archives; Thoms, Pathfinders,
224-25; Birmingham News, August 17, 1930.


of her class and allowed her to give to the black community in different places as a nurse,

a teacher, an administrator, and an organizational and community activist. Jerenia's

whereabouts after 1938 have yet to be ascertained. Whatever the evidence will reveal, it

is clear that Jerenia, a pioneer in the nursing field, illustrated with her life and career the

contributions that African-American women have made in healthcare in Florida and to

the development of the United States as a whole. The fact that her life's work uplifted

the race can be denied by no one.

Caring For A Community: The First Ten Years Of The Boylan Nurse
Training Program and Brewster Hospital

As might be expected, black women in Florida desired professional nurse

training, but, as the example of Jerenia Reid illustrates, they, too, found themselves

required to travel out of state to achieve their goals. Women in many cities in the South

shared a similar experience because in the early twentieth century, most black

communities did not have nurse training programs or black hospitals. When African-

Americans began establishing institutions of healthcare in the 1890s, soon after, the black

community in Florida followed suit. Florida's first black nurse training program and

hospital commenced operation in 1901. This institution greatly improved the black

community in health and economics, as it became a vehicle for progress.1

Although most black communities did not have black hospitals in the early

twentieth century, at the Civil War's end, black hospitals existed in the United States.

The Freedmen's Bureau, the governmental organization established to assist the recently

freed slaves, set up hospitals in southern states to give needed medical attention to

freedmen and women. Unfortunately, the government did not allocate to the medical

department the necessary funds to pay physicians an adequate wage, so they could not

attract the most qualified physicians; therefore, these hospitals suffered from a high

turnover rate. Inadequate funding also forced the Freedmen's Bureau to use old army

hospitals and abandoned buildings to establish their hospitals. These facilities went

through a cycle of opening, closing and reopening; they never became permanent

' Ruth Esther Meeker, Six Decades ofService. The Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, Cincinnati: Steinhuaser, 1969, 129-130; Thorns, Pathfinders, 120; Bartley, Keeping the
Faith, 15; Sessions, A Charge to Keep, 7-8.

institutions in the black community. Although, freedmen hospitals provided some

services to ex-slaves, the lack of funding and disorganization prevented the hospitals

from meeting the needs of the millions of former slaves. By 1872, only the Freedmen's

Hospital in Washington survived.2

Since many freedmen's hospitals closed and most black communities did not have

their own hospitals, blacks depended on white institutions for their healthcare needs.

Since the larger society viewed blacks as second-class citizens, they treated them as such

in all aspects of life. Blacks either received inadequate services or did not receive

services at all. White hospitals designated inferior spaces for their black patients. Often

times, medical professionals served African-Americans in attics and basements, places

far from their white patients. Under the system of segregation and because of racism, the

health of the black community continued to decline. In order for blacks to receive

adequate healthcare, they needed their own medical institutions, so prominent leaders in

both the black and white communities took on the work of fulfilling this need.3

Although members of the black community began the efforts of establishing black

healthcare institutions, the majority of funding came from white philanthropic donors.

As has been previously mentioned, the Rockefellers funded Spelman College while the

Meharry brothers financed Meharry Medical College. In addition, churches assisted in

the establishment of healthcare institutions because hospitals also existed as places of

learning. The Boylan Nurse Training Program and Brewster Hospital, an initiative driven

by the needs of Jacksonville's black community, began with the work of the Northern

2 Gamble, Making a Place for Ourselves, 5-7; Hine, Hine and Harrold, African-American Odyssey, 260-
3 Gamble, Making a Place for Ourselves, 6; Hine, Black Women in White, 4-5.

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