Health Care:
Charleston to Harlem

Upon receiving their freedom, the African Americans of the Carolina Low Country found themselves in a position that their predecessors had often dreamed about. They were now in a position to choose their destiny. Low Country African Americans took this opportunity to enrich their lives by seeking education and enterprise, while at the same time, maintaining the rich traditions that separated their culture from that of the dominant white culture. One of the many traditions that maintained by African Americans was that of herbal healing.

Herbal healing in the Low Country, was often the first choice of health care for African Americans. Many communities relied on the ministering of the local "root doctor" or midwife, or simply consulted the eldest woman in their family, for advice about and remedies for ailments. The dominance of herbal healing in the Charleston area was the result of both the difficulty in traveling caused by the lack of roads and easy transportation between the islands, and the expense of institutional health care.

Upon migration to Harlem, however, African Americans began to rely more on institutional health care. Because of the accessibility of hospital care and the vigilant work of public health nurse, institutional medicine replaced traditional health care in the African American community.

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