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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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Baker, Sara Josephine (15 November 1873–22 February 1945), physician and public health administrator, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the daughter of Orlando Daniel Mosher Baker, an eminent lawyer, and Jenny Harwood Brown, one of the first Vassar College graduates. In her autobiography Baker described her father, who came from Quaker stock, as a sober, quiet man who “never uttered an unnecessary word,” while her mother, “gay, social and ambitious,” traced her ancestry back to Samuel Danforth, one of the founders of Harvard College. A happy child, Baker drew inspiration from both parents. Wishing to make it up to her father for not being born a boy, she became an enthusiastic baseball player and trout-fisher and read ...

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Barrus, Clara (08 August 1864–04 April 1931), physician and author, was born in Port Byron, New York, the daughter of John William Barrus, a traveling salesman, and Sarah Randall, a schoolteacher. She began her education at the Port Byron Academy, where three years before her graduation she decided to become a physician. She felt women physicians were scarce and were needed to “treat modest girls who refused treatment from a man” ( ...

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Bass, Mary Elizabeth (05 April 1876–26 January 1956), physician, medical educator, and historian, was born in Carley, Mississippi, the daughter of Isaac Esau Bass and Mary Eliza Wilkes. She grew up in Marion County, where her father operated a gristmill and dry goods store. The 1890s economic depression bankrupted Isaac Bass, and the family moved to Lumberton, Mississippi, to invest in pecan orchards. The Basses were pious Baptists and active in civic concerns....

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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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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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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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Brothers, Joyce (20 October 1927–13 May 2013), psychologist, television and radio personality, and columnist, was born Joyce Diane Bauer in Brooklyn, New York, to Morris K. Bauer and Estelle Rappaport Bauer, a Jewish couple who shared a law practice. She and sister, Elaine, were raised in Queens, where Joyce was an honors student at Far Rockaway High School....

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Cleaves, Margaret Abigail (25 November 1848–13 November 1917), physician, was born in Columbus City, Iowa, the daughter of John Trow Cleaves, a and Elizabeth Stronach. As a child, Margaret often accompanied her father on his rounds. She attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City but was unable to complete her baccalaureate degree for financial reasons. Alternately, she taught school and attended classes until she began reading medicine and entered the medical department of the University of Iowa in 1870. She received her medical degree in 1873, graduating at the head of her class....

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Gilbreth, Lillian Evelyn Moller (24 May 1878–02 January 1972), industrial psychologist, was born in Oakland, California, the daughter of William Moller, a partner in a large retail hardware business, and Annie Delger. Lillian was tutored at home by her mother until she was nine, after which she attended public elementary and high schools. In high school she studied music with John Metcalfe, for whose song “Sunrise” she wrote the verses. Her lifelong interest in poetry began at this period. She attended the University of California in nearby Berkeley, receiving a B.Litt. degree in 1900. She was the first woman commencement speaker at Berkeley. She then moved to New York to begin graduate studies in English literature at Columbia University, but she soon left before getting a degree and returned to Berkeley, where she received an M.Litt. in 1902. Her thesis was on Ben Jonson’s ...

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Lape, Esther Everett (8 Oct. 1881–17 May 1981), journalist, World Court advocate, and medical care activist, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Henry Lape and Esther E. Butler, both Quakers. Receiving her primary and secondary education in public schools in Philadelphia, she attended Bryn Mawr College on a scholarship but transferred to Wellesley College where she received a bachelor’s degree in ...

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Leverton, Ruth M. (23 March 1908–14 September 1982), scientist and dietitian, was born Ruth Mandeville Leverton in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Ernest Richard Leverton, an engineer, and Helen Ruth Mandeville Leverton. The family moved often because of her father's career. After her high school senior year in Deadwood, South Dakota, they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she began studying at the University of Nebraska....

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Lozier, Clemence Sophia (11 December 1813–26 April 1888), physician and reformer, was born Clemence Sophia Harned in Plainfield, New Jersey, the daughter of David Harned, a farmer and Methodist, and Hannah Walker, an informal medical practitioner and Quaker. As a child Clemence acquired an interest in medicine from her physician brother and from her mother, who had learned traditional healing practices from American Indians. Her mother, realizing that her daughter had a quick mind, began teaching her healing skills. The lessons ended when her mother died and eleven-year-old Clemence was sent to school at Plainfield Academy....

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Macfarlane, Catharine (07 April 1877–27 May 1969), physician and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John James Macfarlane and Henrietta Ottinger Huston, educators. Macfarlane was encouraged by her mother to pursue a career in science: “My choice of medicine as a profession was influenced almost entirely by my mother, a woman of rare wisdom and judgment,” she wrote in 1947. At the age of fifteen Macfarlane was sent to Germany to attend the Girls’ School in Leipzig. Upon her return to Philadelphia in 1893, she entered the University of Pennsylvania, from which she received a certificate in biology in 1895. In 1898 Macfarlane earned her M.D. from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) in Philadelphia, after which she served a one-year internship at the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia, followed by postgraduate study in gynecological urology at Johns Hopkins University. Further education included study with several of the most prominent figures in obstetrics and gynecology of her time at the Royal Charité, Berlin (obstetrics); Frauenklinik, University of Vienna (gynecology); and Radium Hemmet, Stockholm (radiology)....

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McLean, Mary Hancock (28 February 1861–17 May 1930), physician and missionary, was born in Washington, Missouri, the daughter of Elijah McLean, a physician, and Mary Stafford. She enjoyed a privileged childhood. Her father wanted her to succeed academically; he hired a private tutor and provided Mary with an ample allowance throughout her life. At age thirteen she enrolled at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri. In 1878 she transferred to Vassar College, from which she graduated two years later. McLean aspired to be a physician like her father and was accepted at the University of Michigan Medical School, an institution then more receptive than others to female students....

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Mosher, Eliza Maria (02 October 1846–16 October 1928), physician and health educator, was born in Cayuga County, New York, the daughter of Augustus Mosher, a farmer, and Maria Sutton. Her parents were educated Quakers who were interested in antebellum reform. An early penchant for nursing, resulting from rather harrowing experiences with family sickness and death, convinced Mosher, while still a teenager, to become a doctor. Her enthusiasm, coupled with the fact that three women schoolmates entered medicine, softened her mother’s initial opposition. Mosher began reading medicine with her family physician and in 1868 became one of five intern-apprentices at the female-run New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston. A year later she returned to Boston for a six-month term as assistant to Dr. ...

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Nutting, Mary Adelaide (01 November 1858–03 October 1948), nurse educator, was born in Quebec, Canada, the daughter of Vespasion Nutting, a county clerk of the circuit court, and Harriet Sophia Peasley (earlier Peaselee). Before her birth the Nutting family had moved from Massachusetts to Quebec, joining the other New England Loyalists who had relocated in Canada after the American Revolution....

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Picotte, Susan La Flesche (17 June 1866–18 September 1915), physician, was born on the Omaha reservation in Nebraska, the daughter of Joseph La Flesche, a half French chief of the Omahas, and Mary Gale, who was half British. In keeping with her parents’ “progressive” ideas, Susan was educated at mission schools on the reservation, at a women’s seminary in New Jersey, and at Hampton Institute, the famous industrial school for freed slaves, then experimenting with providing education for Indians....

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Shabazz, Betty (28 May 1936?–23 June 1997), civil rights activist, educator, nurse, mother, was born Betty Dean Sanders, the daughter of Shelman Sandlin, a construction worker, and the teenager Ollie Mae Sanders from Pinehurst, Michigan. (Because her birth certificate is lost, scholars are uncertain about her place of birth.) Her young parents were unmarried—this was a social stigma in 1930s America—and her relationship with her mother was stormy. When she was eleven years old, she was adopted by Helen and Lorenzo Malloy, affluent, middle-class African American Methodists from Detroit, Michigan. Providing Shabazz with many social and material advantages, the Malloys also valued educational attainment, and they pushed her to excel in her classes and study hard. After graduating from high school, Shabazz enrolled in Alabama's Tuskegee University, then known as Tuskegee Institute, one of the nation's most distinguished places of higher education for African Americans. However, she was not happy there. Unaccustomed to the blatant racism of Jim Crow laws, she quickly decamped to New York City in 1956 to continue her studies....

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Stimson, Julia Catherine (26 May 1881–29 September 1948), nursing leader and superintendent of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of Henry Albert Stimson, a prominent Congregational minister, and Alice Wheaton Bartlett, a civic leader. Both parents were descendants of long-established New England families with a strong tradition of public service and professional achievement that their seven children would continue. Parental expectations were as high for their daughters as for their sons. At a time when only 3 percent of American women went to college, all four Stimson daughters were sent to Vassar College, and three of them obtained graduate degrees....