Durham County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Durham County

Picture G028

Description: Watts Hospital. Ambulance & Nurse. ca. 1940. Gleaming white ambulance (a Rolls?) with Red Cross insignia, is parked in front of main entrance of the hospital. Nurse stands beside the side door.

Photo from the Durham County Public Library

Voices is an excellent new book (2013) written by Dr. Evelyn Wicker  that chronicles the history of the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing.

  • Negro Durham Marches On - a 1948 movie highlighting African American accomplishments and life in Durham.  The film includes footage of nurses at Lincoln Hospital and at NC College ( now NC Central University).
  • The Southern Collection ay UNC-Chapel Hill Wilson Library has the WTVD (A Durham, NC television station)  Videotape Collection (04929) with 2 tapes of interest to nurses:
  • VT (videotape) 4929/217 - "Black Nurses"  aired April 20, 1985 
  • VT 4929/522 - "The nursing shortage" aired May 20, 1990
  • Interview H-0213  Oakley, Maxie: Seamer (Durham Hosiery); nurse (Watts Hospital), 12 July 1979
  • Newspaper article/interview with Mrs. Carolyn Dudley, RN, a public health nurse in Durham from 1941-1972.

Lincoln Hospital and School of Nursing

Students at Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing

  • Watts,C. D. and Scott, F.. (1965). Lincoln Hospital of Durham, North Carolina: A Short History.  Journal of the National Medical Association, 57(2), 177-83.
  • Shepard, C.H. (1930) The Lincoln Hospital.  Journal of the National Medical Assn 22(3). pp 139-140.
  • Archives of Lincoln Hospital and School of Nursing housed at Duke University Library System
  • Brief biography of Evelyn Booker Wicker, EdD, RN, LHSON graduate.
  • Photograph of Lincoln Hopsital Children's Ward with nurses 1938
  • Papers of  Nurse Edna Lee Foust, Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing alumna
  • Reynolds, P. (2001) Durham’s Lincoln Hospital. Arcadia Publishers,Charleston, SC
  • Clark, M.F. (August, 1916) "Of interest to nurses" Journal of the National Medical Association 8(4) pp.203-205.  Discusses Mrs. Lottie R. Jackson, Head Nurse of St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, N.C. and Miss Julia N. Latta, Public Health Nurse of Durham who presented a paper to the 9th Annual Meeting of the Colored Graduate Nurses Association titled "Public Health Nursing and Sanitation in the South"
  • Kenney, J.A. (1918)  Some facts concerning Negro nurse training schools and their graduates: Journal of the National Medial Association 11(2) 53-68.  This article discusses St. Agnes School of Nusing (Raleigh) and Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing (Durham)
  • Thirty-eighth Annual Report of Lincoln Hopsital and School of Nursing
  • 1948 movie "Negro Durham Marches On"  available at the Durham County Public Library and Duke University Library has movie footage  of Lincoln Hosital nurses.
  • NC State Archives has numerous folders of photographs and documents related to Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing from 1914 -1945. Including a photograph  of Emma Lee Randolph, a nurse at Lincoln Hospital, Durham, North Carolina, in military uniform. Ms. Randolph also served in World War Two, and a phtotgraph of the 1914 graduation exercises from Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing.
  • Article with information about Nurse Julia Latta who was the Superintendent of Nursing at Lincoln for 11 years and was then a Public Health Nurse in Durham.
  • Biography of Mrs. Ruth Betts, RN Public Health Nurse in Durham COunty and Lincoln graduate
  • Biography of Marion Miles, RN of Durham County, NC.
  • Biographjy of Nora Roberts Lispscomb,RN of Durham County.
  • Obituary of Ms. Patty Cater, RN, who served as the Director of Nursing at Lincoln for 37 years.
  • Lucille Zimmerman Williams (See biography section of this website)  Mrs. Williams was born in 1907 in Anderson, S.C.  She went to St. Agnes Schol of Nursing in Raleigh and graduated from NCCU in 1958 with a B.S. in public health.  In 1934 she became a field nurse for the Farm Security Administration and traveled from Maine to Florida providing health care for migrant workers.  She then worked at Community Hospital in Wilmington and finished her career as Director of Nursing at Lincoln Hospital in Durham.


Although this is titled "Duke Hospital" it is about Lincoln Hospital that the Duke family initially funded: -

The Farmer and Mechanic
Raleigh, North Carolina
09 Jul 1901, Tue  •  Page 2



Duke University School of Nursing and Duke Hospital


  • Biographical File  Of particular interest ar the files of Thelma Ingles, creator (with Dr. Eugene Stead) of the first master's of Nursing in Advanced Practice, 1957-1962 (see biography section of this website). Donna Harris first African American graduate of Duke University school of Nursing, and Ann Henshaw Gardiner, hsitorian and first group of in the nursing faculty at Duke.  Her scrapbook documents the beginnings of the program in 1930.
  • Brief Biography of Nurse Donna Harris,RN the first Afrian American Nursing graduate of Duke Univerity School of Nursing.
  • School of Nursing  Records, of particular interest are the files of: Bessie Baker, first Dean of Duke School of Nursing, Ann Jacobansky, faculty member and interim Dean with materials ranging from 1932-1980, Ruby Wilson, Dean from 1989-1985 (see biography section on this website), Florence Wilson, Dean from 1946-1954,
  • The Thinking Nurse a DVD about the Duke U School of Nursing
  • Photograph of Duke nursing students walking to their dorm 1960.


  • Photographs
  • Obituary of Ruth Long RN, CRNA who taught in the Nurse Anesthetist program at Duke for many years
  • "Duke University School of Nursing"  American Journal of Nursing Vol. 29, No. 11 (Nov., 1929), pp. 1319-1321
  • Pollitt, P.A. and Reesman, K.S. (2011). Back to the Beginning: The PA and NP professions each got a nudge from an MSN program at Duke. Advance for NPs and PAs. November 2011 p 37-39
  • 1939-1940 Duke Nursing school student handbook.
  • Article mentioning Lt. Della Raney (Jackson), RN in WWII.
  •  -
The Charlotte Observer
Charlotte, North Carolina
29 Jul 1951, Sun  •  Page 62

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Nursing


  • Information about Helen S. Miller, Dean of the NCCU School of Nursing
  • Joyce Nichols was the first woman and first nurse to graduate from the Duke University PA program.  She earned many honors and awards during her career at Duke Hospital and Lincoln Community Health Center, including being inducted into the PA Hall of Fame.
  • Information about Dr. Johnea Kelley, Dean from 1978-1988

HIstories of NCCU School of Nursing

  • History of the NCCU School of Nursing
  • *NCCU offered a 1 year degree in Public Health Nursing for Diploma graduates from 1948 - 1961.

The Veteran's Administration Hospital

  • 25 years of service 1953-1978.  (1978).  Durham, NC:  The Veterans Administration Hospital

McPerson Hospital

  • McPherson, S.D. (2001).  McPherson Hospital: personal recollections and a brief history.  Durham, N.C.:  MCF McPherson

Watts Hosptial and School of Nursing


  • Frances Turner (b. 1918) of Durham, North Carolina, had a career in the Army Nurse Corps, serving during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
  • Article from 1920 Public Health Nursing with information about Nurse Julia Latta, an industrial nurse at a Durham Tobacco Factory.

Oral Histories


  • Reynolds, P.P. (1991).  Watts Hospital of Durham, North Carolina, 1895-1976: Keeping the Doors Open.  Fund for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education in North Carolina : Durham, N.C.
  •  A tradition of excellence:  pictorial history of the Watts School of Nursing (2006).  Durham, NC, Watts School of Nursing.
  • The Eightieth year of quality health care to the community. (1975).  Durham, NC:  Watts School of Nursing.
  • Archival materials are found in the Watts Hospital School of Nursing History Room.   Ms. Donna Rogers, MSN, of the School is the chief archivist and historian of WHSON.
  • Wyche, M (1938) History of Nursing in North Carolina. UNC Press: Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Drummond, A.Y. (1924) Drummond's Pictorial Atlas of NC.  Scoggins Printing Co., Inc, Winston Salem, NC
  • Watts Hospital School of Nursing website
  • Information from the 1910 Report of the NC Board of Public Charities about Watts Hospital (pages 63-64)
  • 15 postcards of Watts Hospital through the years
  • Newspaper photograph of the newly formed chapter of Chi Eta Phi in 1955

Brief Biographies from Wilson, E.H. (1983).  Older black women of the south.  Phildelphia: Temple UNiversity Press

Clara Beckham Lawrence Mrs. Lawrence was born in 1910 in CHester O, S.C. ... After finishing high school, she completed her nurses training in Columbia, SC nad took a course in practical nursing at Harlem Hospital in New York City.  She completed her B.S. degree at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and an MSPA degree from NCCU in Durham, NC.  SHe worked as a Supervisor of Nursing at Knoxville General Hospial, public health nurse at the Charlotte city and Mecklenburg County Health Departments and Chief Nurse at teh VA hospital out-patient clinics in Baltimore.  From 1957-1974 she was on the nursing faculty at WSSU.


Public Health Nursing in Durham



Durham Morning Herald 
Durham, North Carolina
03 Sep 1918, Tue  •  Page 7 -

Durham Morning Herald
Durham, North Carolina
13 May 1921, Fri  •  Page 2   Julia Latta is the African Ameican public health nurse the article refers to

Brief piece about Nurse Julia Latta - first African American Public Health Nurse in Durham:

Through the liberality of the American Tobacco Co Lincoln Hospital of Durham now has the services of a settlement worker and visiting nurse. Miss Julia Latta a graduate of St. Agnes Hospital, Raleigh, and Superintendent of Nurses at Lincoln Hospital has charge of the work; and has been able to accomplish visible results by personal instruction  in the elements of sanitation and hygiene. As one doctor reports “she has taught the people everything from washing floors to whitewashing fences”.

Journal of the National Medical Association (1912) 4(1) p 95

From: http://durhamcountylibrary.org/exhibits/jeanes/teachers.php

 ... During Day’s second year as supervisor—1918—Durham faced the Spanish flu pandemic, which was sweeping the world and would eventually kill at least fifty million people worldwide.26 Although the city and county schools were closed for six weeks, teachers who participated in efforts to contain the disease continued to be paid their salaries.27 Miss Day, as well as Mr. Husband (who had returned to being a classroom teacher) and many other teachers, worked with Mrs. Julia Latta, Durham County Health Department’s first black nurse, to fight the pandemic.28

28 Durham Morning Herald, “Partial List of ‘Flu Workers,” 22 November 1918, sec. 2, 1. See also Brown, Upbuilding Black Durham, 161.

A bit more about Julia Latta

Newspaper article


Durham Morning Herald
Durham, North Carolina
13 Oct 1922, Fri  •  Page 3

Inline image

Durham Morning Herald
Durham, North Carolina
23 Sep 1922, Sat  •  Page 5

Note the pay inequities between the white and African American nurses pay!


Durham had 8 public health nurses in 1916

The Dispatch
Lexington, North Carolin

March 22, 1916 p.3

From Red Cross Briefs January 10, 1921 p. 6   

Although Julia Latta was an amazing nursing leader, Charlotte Rhone was the first African American Registered Nurse in NC in 1903 (when nurses registered through showing thier diploma and references to each county's Clerk of Court,  and Mary Briscoe was the first African American RN to pass the State Boards in 1916.


Durham Morning Herald

Durham, North Carolina
21 May 1916, Sun  •  Page 2

Ola Jefferson WWII nurse.JPG