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Andrews, Ludie (1875–1943?), black nursing educator, was born in Milledgeville, Georgia, the daughter of a poor family. Little is known about Andrews’s parents or early years, though something clearly happened to inspire in her a desire to become a nurse. In 1901 Andrews applied to Spelman College’s MacVicar Hospital School of Nursing. On her application, she asked for financial assistance, explaining that her family could not help her pay. Her mother had a large family to support and “an old flicted husband,” who was not Andrews’s father. Andrews also said that she had been married but did not currently live with her husband and expected no support from him. Letters praising Andrews and talking about her “good moral character” that came from the pillars of Milledgeville society proved instrumental in securing Andrews’s admission....

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Anthony, Sister (15 August 1814–08 December 1897), member of the Sisters of Charity and Civil War nurse, was born Mary O’Connell in Limerick, Ireland, the daughter of William O’Connell and Catherine Murphy. After her mother’s death in about 1825, Mary and a sister emigrated to the United States, where they lived with an aunt in Maine. While still quite young, both girls were enrolled in the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts....

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Margaret Arnstein. Right, with Secretary of HEW Oveta Culp Hobby. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (A018286).

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Arnstein, Margaret (27 October 1904–08 October 1972), public health nurse and educator, was born Margaret Gene Arnstein in New York City, the daughter of Leo Arnstein, a successful businessman, and Elsie Nathan, a volunteer social worker. She was exposed to public health nursing at an early age by her parents, both second-generation Jewish Americans of German heritage, who were involved with ...

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Bacon, Georgeanna Muirson Woolsey (05 November 1833–27 January 1906), Civil War nurse and philanthropist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Charles William Woolsey, a merchant, and Jane Eliza Newton. Raised on fashionable Sheafe Street in Boston, “Georgy” attended Misses Murdock’s School. After her father’s death on a river steamer, the ...

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Mary F. Beard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103743).

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Beard, Mary (14 November 1876–04 December 1946), public health administrator, was born in Dover, New Hampshire, the daughter of Ithamar Warren Beard, an Episcopalian minister, and Marcy Foster. At the age of twelve she contracted diphtheria and was confined to her home for an extended convalescence, during which she was cared for by a kind visiting nurse. Deeply moved by the experience, she determined to devote her own life to nursing. She eventually dropped out of high school and then worked for several years as a private tutor in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1899 she enrolled in the New York Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated in 1903 and the next year began caring for sick people in their homes as a staff nurse for the year-old Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Waterbury, Connecticut....

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Mary Ann Bickerdyke Photograph by J. F. Ryder, 1898. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ61-564).

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Bickerdyke, Mary Ann Ball (19 July 1817–08 November 1901), Civil War nurse, was born in Knox County, Ohio, the daughter of Hiram Ball and Anne Rodgers, farmers. When her mother died in December 1818, Mary Ann, her sister, and her mother’s two children from a previous marriage were sent to the farm of their Rodgers grandparents in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio, about thirty miles north of Mount Vernon. Her father remarried in 1821 and subsequently moved to Belleville, about ten miles from Mansfield. Little is known of Mary Ann Ball’s early life or education. She and her sister may have rejoined their father for a time, but after the death of their grandparents they also lived with their Ohioan uncle Henry Rodgers. Some accounts have her attending Oberlin College in 1833, studying in Cincinnati, caring for victims of a cholera epidemic in 1837, and participating in the Underground Railroad to Ohio. Recent research has found no evidence to corroborate these stories but rather suggests that she traveled with an aunt, evangelist Lydia Brown, and lived for a time in Cleveland working as a domestic servant. She may have also provided nursing assistance in the Cincinnati cholera epidemic in 1849....

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Blanchfield, Florence Aby (01 April 1884–12 May 1971), nurse and army officer, was born in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the daughter of Joseph Plunkett Blanchfield, a stonemason and cutter, and Mary Louvenia Anderson, a nurse. In 1903 Blanchfield entered South Side Hospital Training School for Nurses in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1906. During postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dr. ...

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Bradley, Amy Morris (12 September 1823–15 January 1904), educator, Civil War nurse, and school founder, was born in East Vassalboro, Kennebec County, Maine, the daughter of Abiud Bradley, a shoemaker, and Jane Baxter. As a child Bradley suffered from bronchial problems, a vulnerability that plagued her throughout her life. When she was six, her mother died. Her seven older siblings and elderly father cared for her until she was thirteen; her father then moved away, and her married brothers and sisters took turns boarding her in their homes. From this experience she developed self-reliance and disinclination to marriage....

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Janet Bragg. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution (79-13664).

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Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, 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.”...

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Buckel, C. Annette (25 August 1833–17 August 1912), physician, Civil War nurse, and mental health activist, was born Cloe Annette Buckel in Warsaw, New York, the daughter of Thomas Buckel and his wife (given name unknown), whose surname was Bartlett. Both parents died when Buckel, an only child, was three months old. Until the age of four she lived with her grandparents, and after they died she lived with two young aunts, neither of whom exhibited much warmth toward her. By age four Buckel had learned to read and write. Quickly outgrowing the local district school, she moved on to a more advanced one in a neighboring town. At age fourteen she started teaching school, boarding with her students’ parents, both in New York State and in Canada. While a youth she decided to become a physician. Financially unable to immediately begin formal medical school, she worked in a burnishing factory in Connecticut, living with her employer’s family, and studied Latin as she worked. By living simply and borrowing on a life insurance policy she had purchased, Buckel was able to enter the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1856. She later demonstrated the high regard she felt for the school by leaving it a bequest in her will....

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Davis, Frances Elliott (28 April 1882–02 May 1965), public health nurse, 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 Frances’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 Mr. 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 upgrade her reading skills on her own....

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Delano, Jane Arminda (12 March 1858–15 April 1919), nurse and administrator, was born in Townsend, New York, the daughter of George Delano, a Union soldier who died of yellow fever in 1864, and Mary Ann Wright. Some sources list the year of her birth as 1862. Her mother later married Samuel Thomson, and Delano grew up in their home in Montour Falls, New York, where she attended a country school and Cook Academy. Delano taught in a country school for two terms; then, influenced by a friend preparing for missionary nursing in India, she enrolled in 1884 in the Bellevue Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York City, graduating in 1886....

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Dock, Lavinia Lloyd (26 February 1858–17 April 1956), nurse, suffragist, and social reformer, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Gilliard Dock and Lavinia Lloyd Bombaugh, landlords. Dock, who later came to think of herself as a feminist, received what she called an “oldfashioned and conventional” education at a local female academy. Her life was basically carefree until her mother died when Dock was eighteen, leaving her and her older sister with the responsibility of raising their four siblings....

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Fitzgerald, Alice (13 March 1875–10 November 1962), nurse and public-health administrator, was born Alice Louise Florence Fitzgerald in Florence, Italy, the daughter of Charles H. Fitzgerald and Alice Riggs Lawrdson. Her parents, both from Baltimore, Maryland, were independently wealthy and chose to live in Florence. Alice was taught by governesses, became proficient in English, French, German, and Italian, attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Florence, and then went to a finishing school in Switzerland....

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Franklin, Martha Minerva (29 October 1870–26 September 1968), 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 very few African Americans. She graduated from Meriden Public High School in 1890. In 1895, choosing 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. After graduation, she worked as a private-duty nurse in Meriden and thereafter in New Haven, to which she relocated....

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Freeman, Elizabeth (1742–28 December 1829), slave, nurse, and slavery lawsuit plaintiff, was born either in New York or Massachusetts, the daughter of parents probably born in Africa. She apparently became the slave of Pieter Hogeboom of New York quite early. The only trace of her parents is Freeman’s bequest to her daughter of two articles of clothing—a black silk gown given to Freeman by her father as a gift, and another gown that supposedly belonged to Freeman’s mother. During her lifetime and even after her death, she was known as “Mum Bett” or “Mumbet,” a name derived from “Elizabeth.” Lacking a surname for most of her life, she sued for freedom under the name “Bett” and adopted the name “Elizabeth Freeman” after winning her lawsuit in 1781....