Hospital at a Black College Appears to Have Participated in Eugenics Sterilization Program of African Americans

In 1896 St. Agnes Hospital was established on the campus of St. Augustine’s College, a historically black educational institution in Raleigh, North Carolina. The hospital was built through the labor of black students at St. Augustine’s College. It treated black patients in Raleigh and, in the Jim Crow period, was regarded as the best health-care facility for African Americans between Virginia and New Orleans. A nursing school affiliated with the hospital trained hundreds of African-American nurses. St. Agnes closed in 1961 after racial segregation in health care was no longer practiced in North Carolina.

Irene Clark, a retired professor of biology at St. Augustine’s College, has completed extensive research on the history of the hospital and those physicians who worked there. She has found that at least 11 sterilizations, and possibly many more, were performed at St. Agnes under a North Carolina eugenics program that sterilized 7,600 people in the 1929 to 1973 period.

One of the records Professor Clark found included these details of the person sterilized at the hospital: “Negro, 30 years of age. Is promiscuous with any man who will carry on with her. She would leave her children at night and go out with any man who would come and drink whenever she could get whisky. Diagnosis: feebleminded.”

Records found by Professor Clark found that another 22-year-old black woman was sterilized because she “had inadequate control of her sexual behavior.” Two sterilizations were performed on young black girls under the age of 13. Both black and white physicians were involved in the sterilization procedures.