African American Library at the Gregory School

Roett Family Collection: MSS.0002

An Inventory of Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library

Descriptive Summary

Creator Roett, Catherine J.
Title: Roett Family Collection
Dates: 1975-1998
Identification: MSS.0002
Quantity: 0.25 Linear feet, 1 document box
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: African American Library at the Gregory School

Biographical note

Dr. Catherine Roett was born in 1923 in Houston, Texas. Her father was Dr. Rupert Roett and he was one of the founders of a full service hospital that served Houston's black community in 1927 (currently known as Riverside General Hospital).

She studied pediatrics at Howard University's College of Medicine and gradated in 1946. Her residency was at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Upon her return to Houston, she became the first black pediatrician in the city. She was admitted and served on both the staffs of Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. This was noteworthy at the time because this was several years before integration and desegregation took effect in the American landscape. Her contributions were numerous. She administered care to hundreds of children, especially underserved African American children of the Third Ward. She served as chief of pediatrics at both Riverside General and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. She established and ran the well-baby clinic at Riverside General, was a charter board member of the Harris County Children’s Protective Services, belonged to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Harris County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, and Lone Star State Medical Association.

Apart from her contributions and professional affiliations she was known to go to hospitals and visit the sick in her spare time. For her contributions and spirit of service to the community she received many accolades. In 1985 the Radcliffe Club of Houston named her a “Woman of Courage” and the following year she was inducted into the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame at the Museum of African American Life and Culture in Dallas. In 1987, Houston’s March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation named its first service award in her honor. The award, which is given to recipients whose contributions lower infant mortality and birth defects, still bears her name.

Besides being active within her profession and community, she was an active member of her church, St James Episcopal Church, located in Houston’s Third Ward. She participated in many roles and was director of the Altar Guild. Dr. Roett died on August 29, 1997.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of photocopies of original family photos, correspondence, clippings, printed materials, and a studio portrait of Dr. Catherine Roett. The collection is not comprehensive but provides background on her family.


Arrangement note

This collection is arranged by subject.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Roett Family Collection must be obtained from African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Edwards, Charles T., Jr., Dr.
Roett, Catherine J., Dr.
African American families--Texas--Houston
African American women
African American women--Texas--Houston
African Americans--Medical care--Texas--Houston
Roett, Catherine J., 1923-1997

Related Material

PH 0016, Roett Family Photo Collection

MSS 0007, Burns Family Collection

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Roett Family Collection. MSS 0002. African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: Dr. Charles T. Edwards Jr.

Processing Information

Processed by: Vince Lee May 11, 2009.

Detailed Description of the Collection



Box Folder
1 1 Family Photos
2 Studio Portrait



Box Folder
1 3 General Correspondence
To: Dr. Rupert O. Roett, From: Rev. James L. Tucker, 1975
Handwritten letter To: Father Tucker, From: Rupert O. Roett, 1975
To: Ruth K. Hammersmith, From: Maggie W. Vaughner, 1998
Nevertheless: A Texas Church Review, Volume VIII, Number 1, 1998


Printed Materials

Box Folder
1 4
Is there no Christ But Israel? (Rupert O. Roett), 1976
Box Folder
1 5 Autobiography
Glimpses into the life of Rupert Orlando Roett, M.D. 1887