2020 BMRC Fellow: LeNie Adolphson


Doctoral Candidate
Department of History
Northern Illinois University

PROJECT TITLE: Health Care in the Black Metropolis: A History of Provident Hospital
Provident Hospital was established in 1891 by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams to serve Chicago’s South Side community. Provident’s founders were responding to the pervasive discrimination Black patients faced when seeking care in Chicago’s hospitals. Provident’s nursing school and residency programs trained generations of African American nurses and physicians during the era of segregation. Healthcare concerns continue to plague the African American community. Despite medical breakthroughs and civil rights victories, African Americans still disproportionately suffer disease, neglect, and maltreatment due to healthcare disparities based on race.

Today, Provident Hospital is continuing its legacy of meeting the medical and social needs of the community. After decades of decline, the hospital recently received approval for a new $240 million facility and will greatly expand services that low-income and African-American residents of Chicago urgently need. Despite its importance to Black Chicago and to U.S. history of medicine, no full-length study of Provident Hospital exists. Distinguished historians Vanessa Northington-Gamble, Darlene Clark-Hine, and Susan Smith wrote important works on the black hospital movement, African Americans in nursing, and the black women’s club movement, respectively,and included Provident in their analyses, but only in chapter-length treatments or less. In addition, none of these scholars discuss the history of Provident after the 1950s. My dissertation will be the first work of scholarship to examine post-1950s archival materials on Provident, and to analyze the hospital’s impact on Chicago up to the present.