Zipporah Parks Hammond
Zipporah Parks Hammond
Date of Birth
Born 1924 Died 2011
Zipporah Parks Hammond was the first Black person to earn a nursing degree from the University of Colorado School of Nursing despite segregation and overt racism, the only Black nursing student in the U.S. Nurse Corps in Colorado during World War II, the first minority director of medical records, a philanthropist, historian of Black history in Denver, and volunteer. Gracefully breaking down barriers and elevating the status of women, she refused to be held back and kept reinventing herself.
After graduating from CU, she began her career as a surgical nurse at Colorado General Hospital and was then recruited as chief surgical nurse for the Infantile Paralysis Center at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where she led a team to care for young polio patients of color. Her work helped establish medical-treatment protocols to correct the impacts of the disease. In 1947, she contracted tuberculosis, which abruptly ended her nursing career.
With a nursing career precluded, Hammond’s lifelong goal to work in the medical field and serve others remained intact. After spending nearly two years recovering, she chose to return to her alma mater to supplement her nursing credentials with a medical records librarian certification in 1951. For 30 years, she served in leadership roles as assistant director of medical records at University Hospital and as director of medical records at the now Presbyterian/St. Luke’s – the first person of color to hold the position. During her career, she helped develop the medical records profession, and taught and mentored more than 200 young medical students and professionals.
Hammond cared deeply about her childhood community in northeast Denver. She volunteered for 17 years at the Denver Public Library preserving and indexing photographs, artifacts, and the history of Denver’s Five Points community, creating a historical legacy. She spent thousands of hours examining photos, identifying people and cataloging artifacts. Without her, Denver’s rich Black history would have been lost. In early 2022, Hammond was inducted into the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame, a collaboration between Denver Public Library and Denver Public Schools honoring African American Coloradans accomplishments.
Despite her modest means, Hammond contributed thousands of dollars to dozens of charitable organizations including Mental Health America of Colorado, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Denver Rescue Mission, Senior Support Services, Friends of Manual High School, Gathering Place a Place for Women, Alzheimer’s Research and more.
Through adversity and setbacks, Zipporah Parks Hammond always found a constructive way forward. An inspiration for countless others, Hammond blazed trails and continued to break new ground for the benefit of generations who followed.