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In the early nineteenth century, most Americans gave birth and endured illness and even surgery at home. They belonged to a largely rural society, and few would ever have occasion to visit a hospital. Hospitals in the United States emerged from institutions, notably almshouses, that provided care and custody for the poor. Thus, rooted in the tradition of charity, the public hospital traces its ancestry to the development of cities and community efforts to shelter and care for the chronically ill, deprived, and disabled. Though modest in their origins, public hospitals have grown into multifaceted municipal institutions.

Watch as Rose-Mary Rumbley (Historian, Author, and Actress) sheds light on the history of hospitals and caring for the sick in Dallas. Rumbley has a doctorate in communications from the University of North Texas. She has written several books on Dallas history. In addition, she taught speech and theater at Dallas Baptist University for 12 years and has appeared in the Dallas Summer Musicals, and at Casa Manana in Fort Worth.

Rose-Mary Rumbley tells stories about some of Dallas’ iconic hospitals

Caring For Dallas: Historic Hospital Galleries
Click on the title tabs for each individual gallery. Use the left & right arrows to scroll through the images. Click on each image for a brief description of the photo.

  • Parkland Hospital | 1894 campus

  • Parkland Hospital | 1913 campus — the first brick hospital built in Texas

  • Parkland Hospital | Woodlawn Tuberculosis Sanitorium

  • Parkland Hospital | 1954 campus, Harry Hines, Dallas, Texas

  • Parkland Hospital | British nurses visiting Parkland

  • Parkland Hospital | Crew inspects the crash of Delta Flight 191, DFW Airport, August 1985

  • Parkland Hospital | Ambulances from Parkland are dispatched to the crash site

  • Parkland Hospital | Hospital staff attending to the crash victims

  • St. Paul Hospital | under construction, ca. 1896 - 1898

  • St. Paul's Sanatorium | Nov. 13, 1899

  • St. Paul's Sanatorium | Feb. 23, 1901

  • St. Paul Hospital | Members of the Medical Air Service & the Sisters of Charity, 1918

  • St. Paul Hospital | Operating Room - possibly Delivery Room

  • St. Paul Hospital | Meals being prepared in St. Paul Hospital's kitchen

  • Baylor Dallas | Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium (Baylor) under construction

  • Baylor Dallas | Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium entrance on Junius St.

  • Baylor Dallas | Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium renamed Baylor Hospital in 1921.Campus photo ca. 1932

  • Baylor Dallas | Baylor Hospital renamed Baylor University Medical Center in 1936. Campus photo ca. 1938

  • Baylor Dallas | Baylor staff around hospital tub

  • Baylor Dallas | Baylor nurses on orientation day

  • Baylor Dallas | Nursing students in class

Click on the topics below to expand and read an article about some of Dallas’ most iconic hospitals.

Parkland is Dallas County’s public hospital. The original hospital opened in 1894 in a wooden structure built on a 17-acre meadow, located at Oak Lawn Ave. and Maple, originally designated by the city for use as a park. The name ‘Parkland’ was literally derived from the donated land on which the hospital was built. A brick building later replaced the wooden facility. The cornerstone was laid on March 18, 1913. The building was completed on February 1, 1914, with a capacity of 100 beds — the first brick hospital built in Texas.

The original hospital building on Bryan Street, part of St. Paul’s Sanitarium, opened its doors on June 15, 1898, providing 110 beds to the Dallas community. The hospital was served by nurses of the Roman Catholic Order. Later, The St. Paul School of Nursing  was established in 1900, offering “hands on” education during its 71 years of operation. Students studied, lived and  worked in the hospital during their intensive three years of training.

In 1906, a free clinic was opened in the hospital’s basement with Sister Brendan O’Beirne in charge. The clinic  finally had  its own building, the Marillac Clinic, to serve  the  predominantly Hispanic  neighborhood  in Dallas’ Little Mexico.

The hospital’s reputation grew as an  alliance with UT Southwestern Medical School prompted the change of the name to  St. Paul Medical Center.  In  December 2000 UT Southwestern purchased  the  hospital’s physical assets, renaming  it the St. Paul University Hospital. On November 20, 2015, the  demolition of the  hospital was completed, thus closing the chapter of this famous hospital that served both the  rich  and  the poor.

Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium (later to become Baylor University Hospital), chartered on Oct. 16, 1903, by the state of Texas, began in a 14-room renovated house. A new building later opened at 3315 Junius Street in 1909.

The hospital was founded through the efforts of several individuals. The land was earlier the site of Dr. Charles M. Rosser's privately-owned Good Samaritan Hospital. Rosser sold his hospital, and it became the first Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium building. In addition, Rev. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, convinced Dallas citizens “to build a great humanitarian hospital.” Colonel C.C. Slaughter (pictured), a devout Baptist and wealthy cattleman, also gave a major gift of $50,000 to establish the hospital.

In 1924, local ministers of the United Methodist Church and civic leaders broke ground for the hospital. Among the many donors, physicians who were to be on the medical staff donated $100,000 towards the $552,267 endeavor. On Christmas Eve, the 100-bed facility opened as Dallas Methodist Hospital. In 1951, a three-story student nurse's residence was constructed near the hospital and in 1966, the Martin and Charlotte Weiss Educational Building opened, providing classroom space for nursing education and a large auditorium for community programs.

The Medical Arts Building, which opened in 1923 on the corner of St. Paul and Pacific streets, primarily contained offices for physicians and dentists. For many years it was the hub of medical activity in Dallas, including the Samuell Clinic, and the office of surgeon and famous Dallas benefactor, Dr. William Worthington Samuell. The building was demolished in 1977.



Caring For Dallas: Community & Outreach Galleries
Click on the title tabs for each individual gallery. Use the left & right arrows to scroll through the images. Click on each image for a brief description of the photo.

  • March of Dimes | John Leslie Patton, Jr. meeting with volunteers

  • March of Dimes | John Leslie Patton, Jr. and the March of Dimes Steering Committee

  • March of Dimes | John Leslie Patton, Jr. campaigning for the March of Dimes at the Tuskegee Institute

  • March of Dimes | John Leslie Patton, Jr. speaking at March of Dimes events

  • March of Dimes | March of Dimes volunteers in nurses uniforms

  • American Red Cross | Volunteer explains first aid programs to an interested party

  • American Red Cross | Nurse teaches a man to change a doll

  • American Red Cross | Nurses in training

  • American Red Cross | Signing up for a blood drive

  • Local Pharmacies | Harrell Pharmacy on Gaston Ave.

  • Local Pharmacies | Greenville Ave. Pharmacy & the Arcadia Theatre

  • Local Pharmacy | Corner Pharmacy, Wilson Bldg., Elm & Ervay

  • Local Pharmacy | Colorized postcard. "Oak Cliff Pharmacy, 10 clerks, 5 phones, 5 delivery boys. The largest drug store in Oak Cliff."

  • Local Pharmacy | Ross-Hall Pharmacy, 3239 Ross Ave.

Click on the topics below to expand and read and article about individuals, businesses & organizations that have been key to community health & outreach programs in Dallas through the years.

The March of Dimes organization, (first named the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis) was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, to combat polio.

John Leslie Patton, Jr., African-American teacher, principal, and author, was born on May 19, 1905. He became the principal of Booker T. Washington High School in 1939. Later, Patton left his position as principal to become the deputy assistant superintendent of personnel and community relations for the Dallas Independent School District in 1969. He was the first African American to receive a top administrative appointment in the DISD.

Patton was also very active in the Dallas community. His numerous affiliations and memberships included that of the March of Dimes organization. As a result of his work, he received an award from the National Foundation of the March of Dimes.

Clara Barton and a circle of her acquaintances founded the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881. Prior to the First World War, the Red Cross introduced its first aid, water safety, and public health nursing programs. With the outbreak of war, the organization experienced extraordinary growth. The number of local chapters increased from 107 in 1914 to 3,864 in 1918, and membership grew from 17,000 to over 20 million adult and 11 million Junior Red Cross members.

The local Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross has been serving communities in the area since 1911.  In 1918, members of the Red Cross played an essential role in caring for the sick during the “Spanish Flu” pandemic. The outbreak of influenza, one of the deadliest global pandemics in history, killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. The local Dallas chapter of the Red Cross called on any and all volunteer nurses it could to help deal with the growing pandemic; it was able to mobilize 135 graduate nurses, 20 undergraduate nurses, and 19 practical nurses for service in the county.

For more than 100 years, locally-owned pharmacies have served as so much more than just a place to fill prescriptions. These family businesses also served as community centers of sorts. Many residents have fond memories of being served ice cream or phosphate drinks at the soda fountain. Many pharmacies served as library branches, post offices, newsstands, vehicle registration stations as well as groceries that offered local delivery by bike or by foot. Many local pharmacies also offered Red Cross training and blood donation centers.


Click on the images below to expand and read a selection of letters and documents from the Dallas Historical Society’s archives.

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