Ezelle Sanford III
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania


Dissertation Acknowledgements

Ezelle Sanford III and Dissertation Adviser Keith Wailoo in Conversation  Sanford Dissertation Defense, June 2019, Princeton University

Ezelle Sanford III and Dissertation Adviser Keith Wailoo in Conversation

Sanford Dissertation Defense, June 2019, Princeton University


Thank you!!

I cannot believe that I have made it to this point in my academic career! At many points along the way, I doubted whether I could produce a dissertation such as this, but here we are. This dissertation represents only the beginning of what will ultimately become a scholarly monograph about Homer G. Phillips Hospital and racial segregation in American medicine and health care, accessible to both lay and scholarly audiences. I could not have arrived at this point without the help, guidance, and encouragement from so many people.  What follows is a very feeble attempt to recount these individuals and describe how they have impacted me along this journey.  I cannot name everyone that I would like—that could comprise a dissertation unto itself; however, I would like to pay special tribute to those who have made a significant impact on my time as a graduate student at Princeton University.  If I have forgotten anyone along the way and neglected to mention their name in this text, please charge it to my head, but certainly not to my heart!

I want to say in advance of enumerated acknowledgements, thank you to everyone who has in some way, shape, or form, encouraged me throughout my life, who stimulated my thinking and intellectual development, and who encouraged my creativity and love of learning. To those teachers and mentors who lit my path to Princeton and to the trailblazers who paved the way for me to advance to this level of study, I want to express my sincerest thanks. 

I would like to acknowledge first and foremost the stellar members of my dissertation committee. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the absolute best scholars. I have conducted this research and written this dissertation under the guidance of Keith Wailoo.  He has pushed me beyond the limits that I set for myself, making me the best possible scholar that I can be.  He has been an extraordinary role model, not only as a talented researcher, but also as a writer, a teacher, a speaker, a colleague, an administrator, and an adviser.  Though an incredibly busy faculty member, Professor Wailoo always made time to meet with me, took my work seriously in office meetings, and worked hard to ensure my success in the world of academe. Looking back on these six years of graduate study, I cannot possibly imagine doing this work with a better adviser. Joshua Guild introduced me to the study of twentieth century African American history.  In addition, he encouraged me to be bold with my work while offering a sympathetic ear to my troubles and triumphs in graduate school.  He was always armed with useful advice which has helped me to meet each milestone in my graduate career. Alison Isenberg is a gifted scholar and educator, offering thought-provoking questions in class and in individual meetings. Her insights have sharpened my work consistently and has expanded my thinking and approach to the study and practice of history.  Though I was not her primary advisee, she always dedicated the time to show up to my events and conference panels, demonstrating her support. Thank you all for your roles in shaping this dissertation, and perhaps more importantly, for shaping me as a young scholar.   I also want to express my sincerest thanks to George Lipsitz, a scholar whom I greatly admire.  He has generously read and commented on this work in its early stages and has agreed to serve as my external reader. Professor Lipsitz’s expertise in the interdisciplinary study of African American and urban experiences, especially in St. Louis, will be most useful as this dissertation transitions into a book.

Research and writing for this dissertation were generously supported by Princeton University’s Departments of History and African American Studies.  The Graduate School at Princeton University has supported this work with the Dean’s Fund for Scholarly Travel and the Charlotte E. Procter Honorific Fellowship.  The National Academy of Sciences and the Ford Foundation have supported a year of funding to complete my writing of this dissertation. Washington University’s Center for the Humanities generously provided a space for research and writing during my time in St. Louis.

Aspects of this research have been presented at Princeton University’s History of Science Program Seminar, Washington University’s Center for the Humanities Seminar, Washington University’s Medical Humanities Reading Group, the History of Science Society, The Society for American City and Regional Planning History Conference, Yale University’s “Critical Histories, Activist Futures” Conference, the Joint Atlantic Seminar for the History of Medicine (JAS Med) at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fontbonne University’s “The Primary Source Conference,” the Ford Foundation Fellows Conference, and Indiana University’s Paul Lucas Conference. Thank you to the organizers of these seminars and conferences for providing a space to present my work and to receive useful feedback from my colleagues.

I would like to thank Dean Wilmetta Tolliver-Diallo for inviting me to speak to several classes of the Homer G. Phillips Seminar at Washington University.  I first learned about Homer G. as a freshman at Washington University, enrolled in this course. It was an honor to come full circle and present my research to future doctors and scholars.  I would also like to thank Joyce Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Robinson, and Brian Shackleford for the wonderful opportunity to speak about my work in the award-winning 2018 film The Color of Medicine. Thank you also to Mark Loehrer and Umar Lee for the opportunity to speak with Virvus Jones on a podcast episode of “St. Louis Speaks.”

Beyond conference and seminar presentations, other individuals have read and offered insights for my work.  Tera Hunter presided over the earliest version of this work as I began research on Homer G. Phillips Hospital as a final seminar paper.  That paper evolved into my second-year research paper, which evolved yet again to this dissertation’s prospectus.  Thanks to Kenneth Ludmerer and George Lipsitz for reading early versions of this work. Margaret Garb also commented on my first chapter.  Joseph Heathcott and Vanessa Gamble have offered their own insights and have pointed me to useful sources. Thank you to Mark Abbott (Harris-Stowe State University), Dr. Geoffrey Cislo (Washington University School of Medicine), Lois Conley (The Griot Museum), Dr. Robert Feibel (Washington University School of Medicine), Dr. Eva Frazier, Dr. Ira Kodner, Calvin Riley (George B. Vashon Museum), Dr. Earle U. Robinson,  and John Wright.

I want to thank especially those St. Louis residents who generously agreed to share their time and their memories with me via “The Homer G. Philips Oral History Project.”  This project would not have been possible without their participation, which is reflected throughout the dissertation.  These participants included: Dr. Bertha Carter-Simmons, Dr. Mary Tillman, Zenobia Thompson, and former St. Louis mayor Vincent Schoemehl.  I would like to thank all the people of St. Louis who generously shared their thoughts, perceptions, and memories of Homer G. in informal settings with me throughout the course of this study.

I would also like to thank the individuals who opened their own personal archives so that I could conduct this research.  Dr. Alison Nash welcomed me into her home and shared her aunt’s, Dr. Helen Nash, personal collection. Bob Hansman, a dynamic figure whose course “Community Building, Building Community” first introduced me to the history of St. Louis, generously shared personal documents that he has collected throughout the years. Zenobia Thompson granted access to very important personal documents that shed light on the closing of Homer G. Phillips Hospital and the activist movement fighting it.  These documents are featured in later chapters of this dissertation.  Thank you all for your help in conducting this research! 

Writing great history is impossible without great archivists. This research would not have been possible without the knowledge, expertise and encouragement of librarians and archivists.  I would first like to thank Rudolph Clay, the African American Studies subject librarian at Washington University who has guided my independent research since my time as an undergraduate student. Thank you to Chris Brady who handled all my administrative needs at Washington University’s libraries. At Washington University’s Department of Special Collections, I would like to acknowledge Miranda Rectenwald, Kate Goldkamp, and Ian Lanius. At the Bernard Becker Medical Library, my sincerest gratitude to Stephen Logsdon and his staff.  At the State Historical Society of Missouri, I would like to thank A.J. Medlock and his supporting staff.  At the St. Louis University archives, I would like to thank Drew Kupsky and Deborah Cribbs. Thank you to Scott Grimwood and Erin Norris at the Sisters of St. Mary (SSM) Health Care Archives.  Christyne Douglas, archivist at Meharry Medical College was very helpful during my brief visit and a pleasure to work with.  Thank you also to Molly Kodner at the Missouri Historical Society’s Library and Research Center.  Thank you also to Steven Holland at Harris Stowe State University for pointing me to the William L. Clay Collections housed there. Thank you also to Charles Brown of the St. Louis Mercantile Library. Finally, another huge thanks to Mark Loehrer who is a talented St. Louis historian and generous scholar.  Whenever Mark discovered new documents that may have been of interest, he did not hesitate to send them my way.  For that I am very grateful.

I also want to take some time to thank the various university administrators who work tirelessly and have helped me navigate university bureaucracies, plan events, secure funding, among many other logistical tasks that have made this research possible.  They have all expertly secured these logistics while simultaneously encouraging me along the way.  I want to thank Leanne Horinko, Barbara Liebmann, January Stanton, Kristy Novak, Jaclyn Wasneski, and Dionne Worthy.  I also want to thank Princeton’s Accessibility Center. As a visually impaired graduate student in a text-heavy discipline, they have generously worked with me to digitize numerous books and have pointed me to resources.  Thank you also to the staff of Princeton’s LGBT center, Judy Jarvis, Andy Cofino, and Eric Anglero for their support and for numerous opportunities to develop as an engaged and service-oriented scholar.


 On a much more personal note I am thankful for the support of all the faculty members in the Program in the History of Science, the Department of History and in the Department of African American Studies.  In addition to my committee mentioned above, I would like to especially acknowledge Erika Milam, Jennifer Rampling, Tera Hunter, Ruha Benjamin, Janet Vertesi, Carolyn Rouse, Michael Gordin, and Angela Creager.

            I was so fortunate to return to my alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis, to conduct aspects of this research. From my time as an undergraduate until now, former professors have become friends, mentors and colleagues.  I have also enjoyed getting to know and working with stellar new faculty members who have so generously shared their time and expertise with me.  These individuals include: Peter Benson, Amy Cislo, Bob Hansman, Mary Laurita, Wilmetta Tolliver-Diallo, Sowande Mustakeem, Douglas Flow, Jonathan Fenderson, Margaret Garb, Jean Allman, Rebecca Wanzo, Gerald Early, Wendy Anderson, Jeffrey McCune, and Shanti Parikh.  Several individuals stand out as they have taken me under their wing, contributing to my personal and academic success. A big thank you to Corinna Treitel who took me under her wing when I returned to Washington University.  She has connected me with individuals and has invited me to participate in the Medical Humanities Reading Group.  I am so grateful Corinna! I also want to highlight Diana and Vernon Mitchell.  Diana has been a wonderful mentor as I graduated from Washington University, as a graduate student at Princeton, and as a researcher in St. Louis.  Diana and I have both bounced between Washington University and Princeton during my graduate career.  Whether in St. Louis or in Princeton, I could always count on Diana’s wisdom to keep me focused and encouraged through good and rough times. Over the years I have watched her family grow with Vernon whose insights, advice, and encouragement have helped me along on this journey. Thank you so much Diana and Vernon!

            None other has been more of a friend, mentor, and colleague as Rafia Zafar. Rafia has witnessed my growth since my sophomore year at Washington University.  She has served as my undergraduate research mentor; she has offered significant advice on graduate school while I applied and helped me to weigh my options.  She has advised me on navigating the academic world. She and her partner, Bill Paul, have fed me and invited me into their warm home.  Rafia generously allowed me to use her office while I researched Homer G. Phillips.  Rafia and Bill have been such important parts of my personal and career trajectory and I cannot possibly repay them for their support over the years.  I can send my very heartfelt thanks.  Thank you for believing in me and supporting me!  I am so grateful.

Along the way I have met extraordinary colleagues who understood best the complexities of this journey.  First and foremost, thank you to my colleagues in the Department of History at Princeton University and colleagues in the History of Science Program.  I would like to highlight especially Richard Anderson, Edna Bonhomme, Wangui Muigai, Pallavi Podapati, Mikey McGovern, Anne Kerth, Dylan Gottlieb, Benjamin Bernard, Jan Van Doren, Ariana Myers, Ray Thornton, and Robbie Zeinstra. I would also like to thank my friends and colleagues in the field including George Aumoithe, Eram Alam, Chelsey Carter, Jason Chernesky, Taylor Desloge, Matthew Edwards, Caitlin Henry, Alecia MGregor, Ayah Nurridin, and Sarah Siegel.  Thank you to Aaron Williams, a fellow Washington University alumnus and John B. Ervin Scholar, who introduced me to an excellent cohort of young Black historians in St. Louis and to the “4 the Ville” organization.

Thank you to my friends, my chosen family! They have listened to my complaints and my joys.  They have propped me up when I felt deflated and were sure to keep me grounded when my ego was inflated. A big thank you to Chelsey Carter, Hendia Edmond, Anne Kerth, Amber Lunning, Gabriel Moore, Joseph Naron, Raymond Perkins, Andrew Schriefer, Stephen Aiken, Annie-Rose Fondaw, Ray Thornton, Emilce Santana, Angelina Sylvain, Sean Toland, Anna Warbelow, Stephanie Weiiskopf, Camille Wright, Akil Word-Daniels, Jasmine Mahmoud, Francisco Vieyra, Lisa Young, and Fernando Tormos.  Thank you to my friend Brandon Wilson who, like me, was a pre-health student as an undergraduate at Washington University. I was fortunate to reconnect with Brandon upon my return to St. Louis, as we both  pursued graduate studies in history.            A very special thank you to my dear friend Latalica Simpson, who has always welcomed me back to Charlotte during my home visits.  I have known Tally for years and she has always been a wonderful, supportive friend. Another very special thank you to two of my very closest friends Alexander Terrono and Joseph Panyin Pobee.  Words cannot begin to express how much you both mean to me.  Thanks for generously offering a place to stay when I needed to escape Princeton, for keeping me updated on popular culture, and for always making me laugh.  I truly cherish our time together. A special thank you to my academic “sister” Elaine Ayers.  Who knew when we met all those years ago that we would laugh, cry, celebrated, and complain together? I am so grateful to have had you as a friend throughout graduate school and it has been a pleasure to watch you grow and flourish as a scholar.

My family’s love and support has only grown during my time in graduate school.  I want to thank my parents, Ezelle and La Tanya Sanford Jr.  In their different ways, they were my first teachers. My mom encouraged my love of science and was the first to introduce me to higher levels of education beyond undergraduate study.  My father taught me about spirituality and philosophy and taught me how to critically analyze before I knew what critical analysis was!  My sisters, Brianna and Trinity, have challenged me, pushed me, laughed with (and at) me.  I love you both dearly!  Much of this dissertation was written at our kitchen table. My family has also grown while I conducted this research.  My sister, Brianna, and her partner, Derrick Wilson, have brought into this world two little lights.  Jordan Wilson was born during my first year of graduate school, and Joi Wilson was born while I was stuck in the archive.  I have watched my niece and nephew grow over these last few years.  Every time that I see them, I am reminded to shut my laptop, enjoy the small things in life, and most of all, to play.  Thank you to my extended family, for their love and support. They made sure that I grew used to hearing “Dr. Sanford” long before this moment.

This journey to a successfully completed and defended dissertation has not come without its losses.  Over these six years, nearly an entire generation of supporters from my family and my church (Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church) has passed on to a new life. Both of my grandmothers, Ann S. Wilson Scales and Geneva Sanford, passed before this moment, grandma Wilson during my first year of graduate school and grandma Sanford during my last.  These extraordinary women have been such powerful influences in my life, and I miss them dearly. Though no longer in this world, I have kept their photos and their spirits with me while writing this dissertation. This dissertation is dedicated to them.

Finally, this dissertation is also dedicated to the memory of Martika Bigham (1989-2017).  Martika was a dear life-long friend who brought so much laughter and joy to the world and to my life.  Her final days, spent at the Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, SC, had perhaps the most profound impact on me and my work.  As she lay in her hospital bed, I was pulled from the realm of intellectual inquiry to confront the powerfully raw emotions of grief and loss. Her final act reminded me how medical spaces can be not only spaces for healing and technological innovation.  They bear witness to transformational points in the experiences of human life:  birth of new life, the death of a loved one, recovery from debilitating illness, or life forever changed by illness.  We often forget that many of these moments are spent in places like hospitals.  As such, we must attend to them and understand their importance and place in our lives.

To everyone I have mentioned above, and to those that I have somehow forgotten, you all have played a critical role in ushering me along this journey. I could not possibly have done this without you!  From the bottom of my heart, I want to express my sincerest and deepest gratitude.

For My Grandmothers,

Ann M. Wilson Scales and Geneva P. Sanford


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For My Dear Friend,

Martika Bigham