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To Bear Fruit For Our Race College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (1927-1954, Section 9)

By the mid-1940s, and with the persistence of Jim Crow segregation limiting African Americans’ access to white facilities, it became apparent that there was a significant need for more hospital facilities to serve the black community in Houston. Events surrounding the Great Depression and World War II had changed the city’s demographics, and more than 100,000 African Americans now called Houston home.  Because of segregation, however, only 175 hospital beds were available to them in the city.

Missionary Sisters of the Incarnate Word Healthcare society raised $400,000


Father John Rocah, director of Catholic Charities of the Galveston Diocese, which included Houston, recognized how desperately underserved the African-American population was. He initially planned for the Dioceses to build a $10,000 clinic in the city’s Fifth Ward. However, the Missionary Sisters of the Incarnate Word Healthcare Society launched a fundraising campaign that raised $400,000 and allowed for the construction of a sixty-bed facility that they named St. Elizabeth Hospital for Negroes

St. Elizabeth Hospital opened on May 18, 1947. Committed to providing “higher medical education and better facilities to take care of the sick for Negroes in Houston and Texas,” 1 St. Elizabeth’s Hospital also acted as a bellwether in its integration of black nurses, white nuns, and both black and white physicians. 


  1. Saint Elizabeth Dedication Set For Sun., May 18,” The Houston Informer, 17 May 1947.

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