West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium, 1937-1950
Tuberculosis was a national epidemic that affected people of all races, but African Americans in West Virginia and other states were rarely able to secure treatment at local hospitals. In order to serve these patients while maintaining a system of racial segregation, the West Virginia legislature created the West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium in 1917.
Backstory and Context
As medical science began finding cures and effective preventative measure, the need for TB hospitals declined. IN 1950, the sanitarium was transformed and renamed the West Virginia State Hospital for the Chronically Ill. In 1990, that facility closed and the building remained in state hands. It is now The Denmar Correctional Facility.
Since the closing of the sanitarium many death records have been surfacing of patients who passed away in the facility. Many family members have been in search for decades of the records of relatives who were registered there and never released. The state has faced many legal actions taken by the families and now most of the sanitariums records are available online.