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LaNesha NeGale DeBardelaben

physician and public health provider, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fourth of five children of Hillard Boone Alexander, a horse trainer, and Virginia Pace Alexander. Born enslaved in 1856 to James and Ellen Alexander in Mecklenburg, Virginia, Alexander's father migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. Alexander's mother was born enslaved in 1854 to Thomas and Jenne Pace in Essex County, Virginia. She and her brother migrated to Philadelphia in 1880. In 1882 Hillard and Virginia were married. A working-class but respectable family, the Alexanders lived in the city's Seventh Ward with their three boys, Raymond Pace Alexander, Milliard, and Schollie, and two girls, Irene and Virginia. Strong family values were instilled in the Alexander children at an early age. Church, education, and a solid work ethic were emphasized in the home. Shortly after the birth of the youngest child in 1903 ...

Article

Dawne Y. Curry

On 8 September 1993, Bill Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States, selected Joycelyn Elders as the nation’s surgeon general of the Public Health Service. In this capacity, Elders argued for legislation supporting universal health coverage and advocated on behalf of President Clinton’s health care reform effort. While Elders lobbied for comprehensive health education, she also supported sex education in secondary schools. Her rather blunt opinions, especially concerning masturbation and safe sex, earned her the nickname “Condom Queen.” In 1994, after fifteen months of service, she resigned from this appointment. Elders returned to the University of Arkansas Medical Center, where she had previously served as a professor of pediatrics.

Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones in Schaal, Arkansas. Her mother, Haller, and her father, Curtis Jones were sharecroppers subject to the appalling poverty and exploitation of that position in the South Minnie the oldest ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

physician and U.S. surgeon general from 1993 to 1994. Born in rural Arkansas to sharecropper parents, Minnie Lee Jones received a scholarship to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock at the age of fifteen. While in college she added “Joycelyn” to her name and ultimately used only that. After receiving a degree in biology in 1952, she worked briefly in a Veterans Administration hospital and then in 1953 enlisted in the U.S. Army, where she received training as a physical therapist.

After leaving the army in 1956, Jones attended the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) and received her MD in 1960. Also in 1960 she married Oliver Elders, with whom she had two sons. In 1967 she earned a master of science degree in biochemistry and also joined the faculty of the UAMS in 1967, becoming a full professor in 1976 ...

Article

Deborah I. Levine

physician, scientist, professor, public health official, and first African American surgeon general of the United States, was born Minnie Lee Jones in the small town of Schaal, Arkansas, the oldest of eight children of Curtis Jones, a sharecropper, and Haller Reed Jones. As a child, Jones performed the hard labor demanded of Arkansas farmers and their families, and she often led her younger siblings in their work on the small cotton farm. The family home was an unpainted three-room shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, and there was no hospital or physician for miles around. Jones watched her mother give birth seven times without medical assistance; the only memory she has of a visit to a physician was when her father took a gravely ill younger brother twelve miles by mule to the nearest doctor.

Haller Jones was determined that her children would ...

Article

Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Joycelyn Jones in Schaal, a poor, remote farming village of southwestern Arkansas. Her parents, Haller and Curtis Jones, were sharecroppers, and all eight of their children—Joycelyn was the oldest—worked with them in the cotton fields. The family shared a three-room cabin with no electricity, and the children walked several miles to attend an all-black school. At the age of fifteen, Elders received a scholarship to Little Rock's Philander Smith College, also a school for blacks. There, she met a doctor for the first time in her life and Edith Jones, the first black woman to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS). Elders later credited these experiences with inspiring her to become a doctor.

Elders received a bachelor's degree in 1952 and spent the better part of the next two decades advancing in the medical profession First she served in the ...

Article

Wilnise Jasmin

psychiatrist, administrator, and physician, was born Mildred Mitchell in Brunswick, Georgia, the daughter of a minister and registered nurse. At the age of 12, she volunteered for the Red Cross to care for those injured in a tornado that swept through her hometown of Cordele, Georgia. This experience as well as her love for science and her need to help people, greatly influenced her decision to pursue medicine. She attended Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina, from 1937 to 1939 and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1941. She received her medical degree from Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1946 completed her internship and then became a general practitioner She was recruited as a staff physician while completing her internship at Lakin State Hospital a facility in West Virginia for mentally ill African Americans Her experience at Lakin brought ...

Article

Althea T. Davis

nursing administrator, was born in Zanesville, Ohio, the daughter of William H. Pinn and Lizzie Hicks. She attended the John Andrews Memorial School of Nursing at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and graduated on 24 May 1906. She later organized an alumni association, of which she served as president for many years. She returned to Tuskegee every April to participate in the Free Clinic, a community health fair. After graduation Pinn went to Montgomery, Alabama, as head nurse of the Hale Infirmary; she remained in this position for three years.

In 1908 Pinn joined the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN), newly organized by Martha Franklin to eradicate segregation and the discriminatory practices against black nurses, who faced differences in pay, lack of respect, and exclusion from local, state, and national nursing organizations. The new organization published its meeting and member activities in the Journal of the ...

Article

Althea T. Davis

Pinn, Petra Fitzalieu (09 February 1881–21 February 1958), nursing administrator, was born in Zanesville, Ohio, the daughter of William H. Pinn and Lizzie Hicks. She attended the John Andrews Memorial School of Nursing at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and graduated on 24 May 1906. She later organized an alumni association, of which she served as president for many years. She returned to Tuskegee every April to participate in the Free Clinic, a community health fair. After graduation Pinn went to Montgomery, Alabama, as head nurse of the Hale Infirmary; she remained in this position for three years.

In 1908 Pinn joined the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN), newly organized by Martha Franklin to eradicate segregation and the discriminatory practices against black nurses who faced differences in pay lack of respect and exclusion from local state and national nursing organizations The new organization published its ...