From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Handy, Elizabeth P.

(born: 1876  -  died: 1937) 

Elizabeth Virginia Price Handy was born in Henderson, KY, the daughter of Jim and Betty Price. She wrote poetry but was never published. She was the first wife of blues composer and musician William C. (W. C.) Handy (1873-1958), with whom she had six children: Lucille, William Jr., Katherine, Florence, Elizabeth, and Wyer. Elizabeth Handy died in New York City. Hours before her death, she had been taken by ambulance to the Knickerbocker Hospital on March 11, 1937; she was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. Because she was African American, she had to wait outside in the ambulance for 55 minutes, while her husband W. C. Handy, and her physician, Dr. Farrow R. Allen, tried to get her admitted. The admitting clerk had informed them that Negroes were not admitted to the private ward. W. C. Handy had to pay $63 before Elizabeth was admitted [the usual charge was $6 per day]. Elizabeth Handy died two hours after she was admitted to the hospital. The New York NAACP, led by Roy Wilkins, assistant secretary, requested that New York Mayor LaGuardia investigate the Knickerbocker Hospital policies concerning Negro patients. Walter Mezger, superintendent of the hospital, told the media that the hospital did not discriminate toward Colored patients; the discrimination that had taken place was that of the admitting clerk, a long time employee who had used bad judgment and had since been transferred from the hospital. For more see The Annals and Scandals of Henderson County, by M. Arnett; and "Hospital accused by Negro society," The New York Times, 03/27/1937, p.30.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Annals and scandals of Henderson County, Kentucky, 1775-1975
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Brown, Phil H.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Handy, Elizabeth P.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 27, 2022,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:27