Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis




Public History

First Advisor

Wanda A Hendricks


From 1901 through World War II, self-help ideology inspired and motivated the middle-class black community of Columbia, South Carolina to establish, staff, and support alternative hospitals and clinics to serve the region's African-American population. After decades of struggling against discriminatory funding policies and in-fighting within the black community, the city's two major African-American hospitals merged in the late 1930s to form the Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital (GSWH) in hopes of building a new, state-of-the-art healthcare facility. As Director of the GSWH Building Fund Campaign, Modjeska Monteith Simkins successfully incorporated self-help principles to mobilize community support and raise funds for the proposed hospital from 1944 through early 1947. When the campaign experienced financial difficulties, Simkins and the GSWH Board of Trustees took advantage of postwar federal healthcare policies to obtain funds needed to build the hospital, which opened in 1952. While federal funds made it possible for Columbia's black community to realize their dream, implementation of federal healthcare policies in the 1960s contributed to the hospital's decline and ultimate closure in 1973.

The extant GSWH structure is a powerful memorial for the black community's activism before the Civil Rights Movement, as well as a reminder of the intersections between local institutions and the federal government in today's healthcare system. This thesis situates the GSWH and Columbia's black healthcare tradition within the larger regional and national historical narratives of the African-American health movement and the post-WWII expansion of federal control over healthcare. Particular emphasis is given to the meaningful contributions that African-American professional women made as advocates for improved black health in central South Carolina during the Jim Crow Era.