History: Emma Reynolds

Emma ReynoldsEmma Ann Reynolds was born in Frankfort, Ohio in 1862. She was educated at Wilberforce University and moved to Chicago seeking to achieve her dream of completing training to become a professional nurse. As a young ‘colored woman’, existing nurse training schools were not available to Negros.

In 1889, Emma Reynolds, along with her brother, the Reverend Louis H. Reynolds, (pastor of the St. Stephens A.M.E. Church on the West Side of Chicago), approached Dr. Daniel Hale Williams seeking his influence so that Miss Reynolds could receive proper training as a professional nurse. Dr. Dan’s solution to the blatant racism was to establish the Provident Hospital and Training School, a private, interracial medical facility.

With the support of prominent individuals, both black and white, Emma Reynolds’ desire to become a professional nurse began. On May 4, 1891, the black owned and operated Provident Hospital and Training School Association; a twelve-bed facility opened its doors at 29th and Dearborn in Chicago. Miss Reynolds enrolled in the first nursing class along with seven other young women.

Nurse Emma Reynolds graduated from Provident Hospital’s Nursing School in 1893. She enrolled in the Woman’s Medical College of Chicago at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1895, she received her M.D. degree.

Dr. Reynolds practiced medicine in Waco, Texas from 1896 to 1899, and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1900. In 1902, she returned to Frankfort, Ohio where her parents still lived; practicing medicine until her death in 1917.

Dr. Emma Reynolds' role in American History continues to gain recognition because she was the woman who sparked the establishment of the Provident Hospital and Training School. In 1994, Dr. Reynolds was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame for her accomplishments.

In 1990, the Provident Hospital Nurse Alumni Association erected a tombstone for Dr. Emma Reynolds in Greenlawn Cemetery, Frankfort, Ohio.