Frank O. Richards Papers


Reference code


Level of description



Frank O. Richards Papers


  • 1937-2003 (Creation)
  • 1937-2003 (Creation)


1.50 Linear Feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

Frank O. Richards was born in 1923 in Asheville, NC and attended Asheville public schools. He received his AB degree from Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama in 1944 and his MD degree from Howard University School of Medicine, Washington, DC in 1947. He completed his internship and surgical residency at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, after which he spent two years in the United States Air Force as chief of general surgery at the 36th Tactical Reconnaissance Air Force Base Hospital in Bitburg, Germany from 1952 to 1954. He returned to St. Louis in 1954 and served as supervisor of surgery at Homer G. Phillips. He entered the private practice of surgery in 1955.

Richards was certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1954. He was admitted as a fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1957.

He was appointed to the clinical faculty of the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in 1954. He served on the staff of Barnes and Jewish Hospitals, also on the staffs of St. Luke’s and DePaul Hospitals (the first African American surgeon to do so), and on the staffs of St. Louis Children’s, Bethesda, Deaconess, and Christian Hospitals.

In 1960, Richards received the William H. Sinkler, MD Award given by the surgical section of the National Medical Association. He has written scientific papers which report studies on intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal bleeding, and wound healing. He also was a participating author of A Century of Black Surgeons, the U.S.A. Experience, a two-volume treatise about the training of African American surgeons in this country, edited by Claude Organ, Jr. and Margaret Kosiba (1987).

Richards was the first African American member of the St. Louis Surgical Society, later serving as its secretary and president. He was active in many civic endeavors and served on several hospital and community boards.

He was married to the former Ruth A. Gordon of Trenton, NJ. They were the parents of two children.

*Adapted from the donor’s own biographical statement, with his permission.

Scope and content

The Frank O. Richards papers contains statistical and narrative pertaining primarily to Homer G. Phillips Hospital, the St. Louis municipal hospital founded and operated for African Americans in 1937, but also to two other institutions, City Hospital No. 2 and the Peoples’ Hospital, that treated black patients during decades of official racial segregation. Included are files on William H. Sinkler, medical director of Phillips Hospital from 1941 until 1960. The files in Box 1 in particular document the writing of his chapter, “The St. Louis Story,” in A Century of Black Surgeons. Box 2 contains later additions, notably an undergraduate thesis by Dean Lee Kolnick (2003) on Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

The collection is open and accessible for research.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Users of the collection should read and abide by the Rights and Permissions guidelines at the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives.

Users of the collection who wish to cite items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication must request, sign, and return a Statement of Use form to the Archives.

For detailed information regarding use of this collection, contact the Archives and Rare Book Department of the Becker Library (

Preferred Citation:

Item description, Reference Code, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Generated finding aid

Custodial history

Gift of Frank O. Richards, 1991 and 2004.

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift; Becker Library copy:Frank O. Richards, MD; 1991; (91-009).
Gift; Becker Library copy:Frank O. Richards, MD; 2004; (2004-031).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Alternative identifier(s)

Rules or conventions

"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."

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Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives. All rights reserved.

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