Skip to main content


Hidden Nurses Collection

Identifier: 2022-018

Scope and Contents

The Hidden Nurses Collection is the fruit of an ECBCNHI initiative to seek out, preserve, and publicize materials related to nursing and health care in non-white communities. During the era of legal segregation in America, persons of color were frequently denied access to the institutions and systems of health care established for whites. In consequence, a parallel but largely inadequate network of facilities developed to serve African-American, Native-American, and even Hispanic individuals. Some of these institutions and clinics received public funding, but most came into existence privately, through the energy and dedication of minority nurses and physicians. Nearly all had to seek charity support. For most white patients and health care professionals, the practitioners and patients in this secondary system remained hidden, as segregation laws and longstanding cultural and economic conditions kept these communities apart, and when their paths did meet in the arenas of employment and public life, the kinds of permissible interactions were carefully regulated and at times brutally enforced.

It is the point of the Hidden Nurses Collection to begin to tell the stories of these dedicated people, and to acknowledge and celebrate their role in the great universal project of human healing.

The Hidden Nurses Collection will be organized into series, and each series will be associated with an individual donor, scholar, or collection subject. The documents described here in Series 1 represent only the first step in a long-term collections development scheme. Other series will follow as they become available.

Series 1, the Phoebe A. Pollitt Research Papers, comprises such research materials as newspaper articles, hospital reports, and interviews assembled by Professor Phoebe A. Pollitt as she examined the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth-century history of African-American health care facilities in North Carolina. Materials are organized by city. Also included are digital transfers of taped interviews with contemporary public health nurses practicing in North Carolina in 2010.


  • Creation: 19th and 20th centuries

Biographical / Historical

Series 1: Phoebe A. Pollitt, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. She earned her doctorate at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, concentrating in curriculum and instruction. Pollitt holds two Master's degrees, both from North Carolina institutions: an MA in Education from Appalachian State and an MS in Nursing from East Carolina University. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to her academic positions, Pollitt has taken on various responsibilities in the field of public health nursing practice and education. She has won numerous awards and public recognition for her academic and professional work, and she maintains active involvement in professional committees and regional advisory and policy bodies.


3.0 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Series 1: After an initial group of folders containing general information on African-American health care in North Carolina and the nation, facility materials follow alphabetically by city. The final folders contain miscellaneous notes and images, an article draft and publications by Pollitt.

Henry K. Sharp
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry Repository

University of Virginia School of Nursing
P.O. Box 800782
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0782 United States