Maude Callen was a nurse-midwife, known today because she was the subject of a Life magazine photo-essay by the famed photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. In her lecture at the Radcliffe Institute entitled “Black before Brown: Education, Health, and Social Welfare Professionals in the South, 1930-1954,” Darlene Clark Hine noted of Callen, “She became the first African American woman in United States history to be featured in a mainstream white publication that did not telescope her body or sexuality.” The 3 December 1951 essay entitled “Nurse Midwife: Maude Callen Eases Pain of Birth, Life, and Death” shows that Callen was an exemplary human being: strong, tireless, brave, committed, and indomitable. It also shows that Callen essentially ran her own private social service agency for the poor of her community. What the essay did not show, could not show, in a mainstream, conservative publication such as Life except by ...
Hilary Mac Austin
was born in Quincy, Florida, the daughter of Harrison Daniels and Amanda Daniels (maiden name unknown). It is commonly published that Maude was one of thirteen sisters, but the 1900 census shows that she was living with only one older sister, Georgia, born in 1889. Her mother, born in 1877, would have been no more than twenty-eight years old when Maude was orphaned by the age of six. She was raised in the home of her uncle, Dr. William J. Gunn of Tallahassee, Florida.
After attending St. Michael’s and graduating from All Angels schools in Tallahassee, she entered Florida A&M, completing her bachelor’s degree in 1922. She then completed training in nursing at the Georgia Infirmary in Atlanta. In 1921 she married William Dewer Callen. Although some sources place the couple’s arrival in Pineville, Berkeley County, South Carolina as early as 1923 in the early 1930s ...
Adria N. Armbrister
nurse-midwife, was born in Pennsylvania. Little is known of her family or early life. She is best known for her work with African American midwives in Arkansas during the 1940s; her efforts are credited with having reduced drastically the race-based disparities in maternal mortality in that state at mid-century. Hale trained in and practiced public health nursing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before attending the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery in Alabama. Hale, who received a certificate in midwifery from the program, was one of thirty-one African American women graduates of the Tuskegee school, only the fourth such education program in the United States. Opened in 1942 the school was also the first postgraduate nurse-practitioner course in midwifery for African American students. It awarded both master's degrees and certificates, but it closed in 1946 as did several other programs for African American nurse midwives begun at that time due to white ...
Amy M. Hay
The public health career of the nurse and midwife Mamie Odessa Hale demonstrates the importance black women have played in helping to improve the health of black Americans, particularly in the South. Hale’s training of the “granny” midwives of Arkansas proved to be her lasting gift to public health.
Born in Pennsylvania, Mamie Odessa Hale attended a teachers college and later worked as a public health nurse in Pittsburgh, eventually leaving that career to attend the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery in Alabama, from which she graduated in 1942. Tuskegee, famous and infamous in black health history, played an important role as an institution dedicated to improving the health of poor rural blacks. The institution opened one of the first black nurses training programs in 1892 and served as a major educational institution in providing both training for black professionals and health programs for southern blacks.
The Nurse Midwifery ...