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Karen Buhler-Wilkerson and Sarah A. Johnson

By any standard, Anna De Costa Banks was an exceptional nurse. Raised and educated in Charleston, South Carolina, Banks graduated from Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1891. She then attended the newly chartered Hampton Hospital and Training School for Nurses, graduating in its first class in 1893. She later recounted in letters to her mentors that the training she received at Hampton had shaped her whole life. Having received special funds to attend Hampton, Banks felt an obligation to work on behalf of the black community that had supported her.

Returning to Charleston, Banks became head nurse of the Hospital and Training School for Nurses when it opened in 1896 Committed to meeting the health care needs of the black community these institutions were also created in response to the denial of staff privileges to black physicians and the exclusion of black women from admission to the ...

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Mary Krane Derr

nursing educator and administrator, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. Little information is available about her parents or other aspects of her personal background. When she was nine years old Bessent lost her mother. Her grandmother then raised her, instilling in her a strong belief that self‐giving is the measure of personal worth. After graduating from high school in Jacksonville, Bessent worked as a laboratory and X‐ray technician, an unusual job for a black woman of her time and place but one that led to her groundbreaking career in nursing.

During and after slavery African Americans especially women often served as lay healers and tenders of the sick Starting in the nineteenth century as nursing became a more formally organized profession the color line sliced through it Even though black communities urgently needed more health care black nurses were denied membership in the American Nurses Association ANA educational opportunities and all ...

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William David Barry

nursing administrator, who as a teenager in 1952 caused racial integration of a Washington, DC, public accommodation, was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Emory C. Dodge Sr. and Irene Isabel Eastman. Her father, a native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, served in the Canadian Army and the U.S. Navy before settling in Portland, Maine, where he was employed in local hotels and at the Maine Medical Center. Emory Sr. married Irene Eastman, a member of a long-established black Maine family, on 18 October 1928. They raised two children on Anderson Street in Portland's ethnically mixed Munjoy Hill neighborhood. As a young woman Beverly took a particular interest in family history, especially through a cousin Mary E. Barnett who had preserved letters and documents that would eventually lead Beverly back to the family s origins in Demerara Guyana and the Netherlands during the 1700s Further more ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Janet's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Janet's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. The youngest of seven children, Janet had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called “African Americans in Aviation in Arizona,” Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children were allowed to attend any church they chose They were ...

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Hilary Mac Austin

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 ...

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Charles Rosenberg

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 ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

nurse, educator, and leader, was born Mary Elizabeth Lancaster in Baltimore, Maryland, the fourth child of John Oliver Lancaster, a musician, and Adeline Beatrice Swann, a homemaker. In 1918 the Lancasters divorced and M. Elizabeth went to live with her mother's sister in Washington, D.C., where she attended public school. The family had little money and Carnegie worked part-time at a whites-only cafeteria. She graduated from Dunbar High School at age sixteen. Like many girls who were good at a science but who lacked the money to pay for college, Carnegie pursued a diploma in nursing at a hospital-affiliated school. Such schools typically gave students small stipends as well as free tuition in exchange for their labor on hospital wards. Carnegie added two years to her age to get admitted to the all-black Lincoln School of Nursing in New York City. She graduated in 1934.

The hospitals ...

Article

Ruth E. Martin

civil rights activist and nurse's aide, was born Claudette Austin in Birmingham, Alabama. The daughter of Mary Jane Gadson and C. P. Austin, she was raised by her great-aunt and great-uncle, Mary Ann Colvin and Q. P. Colvin, the former a maid and the latter a “yard boy,” or outdoor domestic.

When Colvin was eight, she and her guardians moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where she attended Booker T. Washington High School. In February 1955 her classes were devoted to “Negro History month,” with a focus on current racial injustice in Montgomery. On her way home from school on 2 March 1955 she sat in the rear of the bus far behind the ten seats that were automatically reserved for whites A 1900 Montgomery city ordinance stipulated that conductors were given the power to assign seats in order to ensure racial segregation but that no passengers would ...

Article

Dalyce Newby

nurse, educator, and community advocate, was born in Shelby, North Carolina, the daughter of an unlawful interracial marriage between Darryl Elliott, a part African American Cherokee sharecropper, and Emma (maiden name unknown), the daughter of a plantation owner and Methodist minister. Darryl Elliott fled the state early in Davis's life, leaving her to be raised by her mother. Both parents had died by 1887, after which Davis was raised in a succession of foster homes. At the age of twelve she was sent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lived under the guardianship of the Reverend Vickers. In the Vickers household she was regarded more as a domestic helper than a ward; consequently her early formal education was pursued on a sporadic basis. Determined to succeed, she possessed the intrepidity to improve her reading skills on her own.

In 1896 at the age of fourteen ...

Article

Althea T. Davis

nursing leader, was born in New Milford, Connecticut, the daughter of Henry J. Franklin, a laborer and a private in the Twenty-ninth Connecticut Volunteer Division during the Civil War, and Mary E. Gauson. Reared in Meriden, Connecticut, during the post–Civil War period, Franklin lived in a town that had few African Americans. She graduated from Meriden Public High School in 1890. In 1895, having chosen nursing as a career, Franklin entered the Women's Hospital Training School for Nurses in Philadelphia. She graduated in December 1897, the only black graduate in the class, and went on to find work as a private-duty nurse in Meriden and thereafter in New Haven, to which she relocated.

Franklin s interest in organizing the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses NACGN was prompted by the difficulties black women often faced That black women were rarely accepted into schools of ...

Article

Darlene Clark Hine

Born in New Milford, Connecticut, to Henry J. Franklin and Mary E. Gauson Franklin, Martha graduated from Meriden Public High School in 1890. Five years later, she entered the Woman’s Hospital Training School for Nurses in Philadelphia, one of the few black women to have access to such a nursing program. The vast majority of nursing schools either severely restricted or prohibited the admission of black women. This widespread system of racial discrimination and exclusion propelled many African Americans to found a separate network of health care institutions and nurse training schools.

The sole black student in her class, Franklin received her diploma in December 1897. She found employment as a private-duty nurse, because hospital staff or public health nursing were seldom available to black nurses. Franklin worked for a while in Meriden and then in New Haven.

As a graduate nurse Franklin was confronted with ...

Article

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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Christopher J. Neumann

autobiographer and black women's rights activist, was born Jane Edna Harris in Pendleton, South Carolina, the daughter of Edward Harris and Harriet Millner, sharecroppers. Following her father's death due to jaundice when she was ten years old, Jane and her three siblings were distributed briefly among the homes of various relatives. His death and the ensuing dispersal of her nuclear family were especially difficult for Jane, in part because she had customarily been “father's ally in his differences with mother” (A Nickel, 12) but also because she now had to forgo formal schooling to earn her keep in Anderson, South Carolina, as a live-in nursemaid and cook. Although treated so poorly by her mistress that white and black neighbors alike protested, she was taught to read and write by the eldest daughter.

Harris entered Ferguson Academy (later Ferguson-Williams College) in 1896 graduating four years later ...

Article

Michaeljulius Idani

nurse and U.S. Congresswoman, was born in Waco, Texas, the daughter of Edward Johnson, a Navy veteran and civil servant for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Lillie Mae White Johnson, a homemaker and church organizer. Johnson was one of four children—sisters Ruth and Lee and brother Carl. The Johnsons were a tight-knit Christian family with a large extended family rooted in the Waco community. Johnson's parents instilled in their children a deep appreciation for education. Johnson's mother was an honor's graduate of AJ Moore High School in Waco, where Johnson would later attend and graduate in 1952.

By the early 1950s many segregationist laws had been enacted against African Americans and Hispanics Texas maintained separatist policies related to education and public and residential areas and few opportunities existed for Johnson to pursue higher education locally After graduation from high school she attended St ...

Article

Johnson was born in Waco, Texas. She received a bachelor's degree in 1955 from Saint Mary's at Notre Dame and a nursing degree in 1967 from Texas Christian University. She worked as a nurse until being elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972. She earned a master's degree in public administration in 1976 from Southern Methodist University. Johnson left the statehouse in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter appointed her regional director of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). She worked at HEW until 1981, then started her own business-consulting firm in Dallas.

In 1986 Johnson was elected to the Texas Senate. As chair of the Texas Senate subcommittee responsible for drawing congressional districts for 1992, she created the new Thirtieth Congressional District, which subsequently elected her to Congress in 1992. In 1994 federal judges ruled the district unconstitutional because it ...

Article

Mona E. Jackson

Named by Ebony magazine in 2001 as one of the ten most powerful black women in America, Eddie Bernice Johnson became the first African American woman to represent the Dallas, Texas, area in the U.S. Congress in 1992. With a passion for justice and the courage to speak her mind, Johnson has been a leader in championing legislation designed to empower low-income communities. As a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson has taken pride in transcending the actions of the average politician: “The average politician, in my judgment, just wants to get along. Getting along is important, but it’s not a number one thing for me. I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.”

Eddie Bernice Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, to Edward Johnson and Lillie Mae White Johnson After finishing high school she attended St Mary s at Notre Dame ...

Article

Peter Brush

Democratic congresswoman. Johnson was born in Waco, Texas, where she graduated from high school in 1952. She earned a nursing certificate from the University of Notre Dame in 1955. She began her nursing career the following year at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, eventually becoming chief psychiatric nurse. Johnson married Dawrence Kirk and in 1958 had a son, Dawrence Jr. The marriage ended in divorce. In 1967 Johnson earned a BS from Texas Christian University and in 1976 a master's degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University.

During her sixteen years of nursing Johnson stayed active in community affairs. In 1972 she achieved a landside victory in her run for the Texas House of Representatives District Thirty three This was a historic achievement Johnson became the first black woman to win political office in Dallas In the house she was an advocate for health ...

Article

Linda Rochell Lane

Hazel W. Johnson broke through convention, custom, and racial and gender barriers in 1979 when she became the first black woman general in the American military. This accomplishment has guaranteed her a place in African American history, women’s history, and military history.

Hazel Johnson was born in 1927 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Interested in travel and changing her outlook, she entered the army in 1955, five years after completing basic nurses’ training at New York’s Harlem Hospital. She received a direct commission as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps in May 1960. Taking advantage of the educational opportunities provided by the military, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Villanova University, a master’s degree in Nursing Education from Columbia University, and a PhD in Education Administration through Catholic University.

Johnson was chief of the Army Nurse Corps from 1979 to 1983 the ...

Article

Martha Ackmann

baseball player, was born Mamie Belton in Ridgeway, South Carolina, the daughter of Della Belton, a hospital dietician, and Gentry Harrison, a construction worker about whom little else is known. Mamie spent her early years in Ridgeway, where she attended Thorntree School, a two-room schoolhouse. Part of a large family that included twelve half brothers and half sisters, Mamie lived with her maternal grandmother, Cendonia Belton, while her mother worked in Washington, D.C. Mamie's uncle, Leo “Bones” Belton, was so close to her in age that she regarded him more as a brother than as an uncle. Belton introduced her to baseball. Along with other children in the area, “Bones” and Mamie played baseball on a makeshift diamond, with a lid from a bucket of King Cane sugar serving as home plate and baseballs made of rocks wrapped in tape.

After her grandmother s death ...