Clydie Pugh-Myers was a graduate of the first class of Duke’s Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program in 1949. Duke’s LPN program was established in 1948 as a collaboration of Duke University Hospital, Durham City School, and the North Carolina Department of Vocational Education to train African-American nurses. Although 72 women qualified and registered for the program its inaugural year, only 26 would pass the rigorous training and examinations to graduate the following year. The LPN program transferred to the Durham Industrial Education Center, which would later become Durham Technical Community College in the early 1960s.
When she began her career, she and other the LPN training program graduates were the first professional African-American nurses working in the white ward of the then segregated Duke Hospital. These experiences are chronicled in her oral history where she provided recollections of various Duke physicians and the impact integration had on healthcare in Durham.
Ms. Pugh-Myers worked at Duke Hospital for two years and then entered the Durham Professional Nurses Registry and began work as a private nurse. She was one of the first African-American nurses to work for the registry and served many of Durham’s prominent citizens during her long career.
Clydie Pugh-Myers died on April 18, 2020 in Durham, NC at the age of 92.
This oral history interview was conducted with Clydie Pugh-Myers on January 18, 2006 by Jessica Roseberry.