Ella B. Brown



Interview Date


Biographical History

Ella B. Brown was born in Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated from the Homer G. Phillips School of Nursing in 1947. She received her B.S.N. from St. Louis University, and in 1959 received a Master’s Degree in Nursing from Washington University School of Nursing. Later, she received a Master’s Degree in Nursing and Administration from Webster University and a Certificate in Pediatric Nursing from the University of Chicago.

Brown began working at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in 1947 and held a variety of positions, including staff nurse, supervisor, instructor, and assistant director of education in the nursing school. She was on the faculty of Homer G. Phillips School of Nursing when it merged to become the St. Louis Municipal School of Nursing.

She was Director of Nursing Services at Homer G. Phillips Hospital when it closed 1979. She transferred her position as director of nursing to St. Louis City Hospital No. 1 and remained there until her retirement in 1984, when City Hospital closed. She was the first Black person to be inducted into the Missouri Nurses Association Hall of Fame.


An interview of the Washington University Medical Center Desegregation History Project, conducted by Edwin W. McCleskey and associates, 1990. Approximate Length: 22 minutes.

Please note that edits made by Brown have been incorporated into the interview transcript so there is some discrepancy between the audio recording and the final transcript.

Ella Brown discusses her experiences at Homer G. Phillips Hospital, where she served as director of nursing service at the time of its closure, and the effect the closing of the hospital had on health care for the Black community.

Brown relates her memories of the closure of Homer G. Phillips Hospital and the pain she felt. She discusses the political and economic issues at play, and later explains the logistics involved in closing the hospital and provides details from its last day of operation.

She also discusses the connection between the hospital and Washington University, and the merger of the Homer G. Phillips School of Nursing with St. Louis City Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1966.


Washington University Publications


Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives


Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri

PC054-S03-B01-F06-i02_Ella_B_Brown_oral_history_audio_recording.mp3 (20660 kB)
Ella B. Brown Oral History Audio