Ms Mary Eliza Mahoney – The first Black nurse
Mahoney was the first African American woman to complete nursing training and work as a nurse in the U.S. She was born in Massachusetts in 1845 to freed slaves. She began school at the age of 10 and attended the Phillips School – one of the first integrated schools in Boston.
In 1878, Mahoney was admitted to the New England Hospital for Women and Children for the nursing program. The NEHWC was the first school to offer such a program to women as the nursing field was mostly dominated by men. Upon completion of her education, she worked as a private care nurse which solidified her reputation as a diligent and capable health worker.
In 1896, Mahoney was admitted to the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC) – most of the members were White. In 1908, she co-founded National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). From 1911 to 1912, Mahoney was appointed the director of the Howard Orphan Asylum in Long Island, NY. She worked tirelessly for the women’s suffragist movement and was a steadfast believer in women’s equality.
Mahoney was bestowed with several honors including the Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center in Oklahoma City, OK; she was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. Mahoney never married or had any children; she died from breast cancer on January 4, 1926, after battling the illness for three years.