Elizabeth Webb Hill

Name: Elizabeth Webb Hill
Birth Date: November 28, 1898
Birth Place: Evanston Illiniois, USA
Death Date: May 3, 1978
Death Location: Evanston Illinois, USA
Burial Place: Sunset Memorial Gardens, Northbrook, Illinois

Summary

Elizabeth Webb Hill was born in Evanston in 1898 and received her medical degree from the University of Illinois in 1931. During the Depression, she struggled to maintain a private practice in Evanston, often offering free health care to those who could not afford it. In 1939, she founded a Woman’s Auxiliary at the Community of Hospital of Evanston and was appointed Chief of Staff of the hospital in the mid-1940s. After World War II, she led a campaign for a new fifty-six bed hospital facility. Hill was actively involved in numerous organizations and city commissions and was a lecturer at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine.

Significance

Elizabeth Webb Hill was a physician and prominent leader in the development of hospital care for African Americans in Evanston. Born in Evanston in 1898, Hill attended Foster School and graduated from Evanston Township High School. Shortly after her graduation, Hill entered Northwestern University and subsequently transferred to the University of Illinois. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University in 1925 and a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1931 after interning at Provident Hospital in Chicago. After receiving her medical degree, Hill returned to Evanston where she started her own practice in her childhood home and joined the staff of the Community Hospital of Evanston in 1931. Over the course of the next decade, Hill provided the African American community in Evanston with needed medical care and became increasingly involved in Community Hospital, founding a Woman’s Auxiliary in 1939 to help raise operating funds for the hospital. In the mid-1940s, Hill became a member of the hospital’s board of directors and was made chief of staff, making her the first African American woman to be named to such a position in Illinois. Hill continued to serve as chief of staff until the mid-1950s. During this time, Hill initiated a campaign to raise funds for the building of a new hospital facility that could more adequately meet the needs of Evanston’s growing African American population. The campaign was initially met with resistance as the NAACP and other local groups opposed the construction of a new facility at a time when hospitals were being pressured to desegregate. However, Hill persevered and Community Hospital reopened in a new fifty-six bed interracial facility in 1952. Hill remained active in the medical community until her death in 1978, serving as chief of staff at Community Hospital intermittently between 1962 and 1975 and becoming a faculty member at Northwestern University Medical School and a senior attending physician at Evanston Hospital in 1973. Shortly after Hill’s death, Community Hospital was forced to close. The facility was eventually converted into an apartment complex for adults with disabilities and dedicated in 1986 as the Hill Arboretum Apartments.

Father: James Preston Hill
Mother: Helen M.
Education: Northwestern University: Chemistry and German University of Illinois: MD, 1931 University of Illinois: BA, 1925 Providence Hospital, Chicago, IL: Intern, 1930-1931 Evanston Township High School Foster School, Evanston, IL
Years in Evanston: 1898-1978 (except while enrolled at the University of Illinois)

Sources: Newspapers: Chicago Tribune, May 1966 The Evanston Review, February 3, 1949 North Shore Examiner, October 30, 1980; December 15, 1977; May 12, 1978 The Chicago Defender (National edition) (1921-1967) Page 6. Secondary Sources: Schultz, Rima Lunin, and Adele Hast, eds. Woman Building Chicago, 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary." Bloomington, IN: University Press, 2001.