Lincoln Hospital was a medical facility located in Durham, North Carolina founded to serve the African Americans of Durham County and surrounding areas. With original hospital construction financed by the Duke family, Lincoln served as the primary African American hospital in Durham until 1976, when it closed and transferred its inpatient services to Durham County General Hospital.
Despite its cultural setting within the Jim Crow South, Lincoln Hospital developed and thrived due to a complex web of inter- and intraracial cooperation.
Lincoln’s medical staff sought to reduce morbidity and mortality of Durham blacks by targeting maternal and child health, infectious disease, and health behavior through health education programs, specialized clinics, and free medical care. Lincoln expanded educational opportunities for blacks through their nursing, residency, and surgery programs during a time where few opportunities existed for blacks in healthcare.
African Americans experienced serious health disadvantages in 20th century Durham, North Carolina. Modern analyses have shown that inadequate housing, insufficient heat, poor ventilation, inadequate diet, and overwork contributed to multiple medical problems, including malnutrition and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid, pneumonia, diphtheria, measles, and influenza. Rapid industrialization from the tobacco and textile industries increased the spread of diseases caused by particulate matter and caused strain on existing infrastructure.
Widespread belief that blacks were physically and mentally inferior to whites led to white apathy towards disparities in white and black morbidity and mortality. Separation of Durham’s black and white communities allowed health disparities to flourish. The hospital functioned with support from private institutions, black and white individuals, and the governments of Durham County and other surrounding counties.