The Student Health Coalition Archive Project describes a collaboration between underserved communities and college students in the 1960s through the 1980s. The goal of the collaboration: improve access to health care, by means of community organizing, primarily in the rural south.
The archive represents an innovative community-driven approach to preserving history, weaving together individual stories and memories that in the aggregate build a narrative about the work, the era, community organizing, and health care delivery.
Documents, photos, and recorded interviews are housed at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at the Eskind Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University.
This website serves as a portal to the Archive, and an invitation to participate.
Kate Bradley and Marie Cirillo share some laughs thinking back to the effort Student Health Coalition participants put toward demonstrating modesty and respect so as to cultivate relationships with community members. But sporting bowl cuts, long skirts, and duct-taped shoes… Continued
Art Van Zee reminisces Howard and Elsie Elliot, a local couple with whom many Student Health Coalition participants were welcomed to stay. He highlights their hospitality as a hallmark of the Coalition’s community-centered approach to effective organizing. Continued
Kate and J.W. Bradley share sweet reflections of the friendships made during the Student Health Coalition’s community organizing efforts in rural Tennessee, and explain that the organization’s leader, Bill Dow, gave them hope to change what they’d always been told… Continued
Charles “Boomer” Winfrey delineates the historical account of Coal Creek, Tennessee’s Coal Creek War (the battle atop Militia Hill at Fort Anderson) to Maureen O’Connell, Tom John, and Biff Hollingsworth. He explains the conflict’s origins within a larger context of… Continued
Having overcome the adversity of racially biased employment discrimination imposed upon her at the outset of her nursing career, Minnie Bommer shares also about the realities of healthcare inequities and segregation experienced post-hire at a hospital in Covington, Tennessee. Recorded… Continued
Minnie Bommer shares her tumultuous experience at the outset of her nursing career, detailing the extent of racially biased obstacles intended to bar her from hire at hospitals in Tipton County, Tennessee. Recorded June 1st, 2018. Full footage of… Continued
Maureen O’Connell and Charles “Boomer” Winfrey reflect on the value of having fun, highlighting the Student Health Coalition as an especially stimulating group of people to be around. Their commitment to collective recreation ultimately facilitated a stronger sense of togetherness… Continued
Leslie Falk was born April 19, 1915, and grew up in St. Louis, MO. After attending University of Illinois and Washington University (St. Louis), Falk received a Rhodes Scholarship, which allowed him to attend Oxford University, 1937-1940, where he helped… Continued
Bill Dow co-founded the Student Health Coalition while in medical school at Vanderbilt University, in 1969. His larger-than-life role in the SHC origin story and beyond warrants special telling, which we attempt in the essay that follows. Contributed by Margaret… Continued
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provided support to the Student Health Coalition early on, beginning in 1970. A TVA van traveled to the Coalition health fairs and included x-ray, lab facilities, and staff to run it. Retired TVA vans eventually… Continued