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Mary Eliza Mahoney

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Mary Eliza Mahoney 

 

Mary Eliza Mahoney

(1845 -1926)

Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African-American registered nurse in the U.S.A.

 

She was born in Roxbury, Mass., where her parents had relocated from North Carolina, she became interested in nursing when she was a teenager.

 

Unlike many blacks of her day, Mary Mahoney decided not to go into domestic work, but enrolled in nursing school. In 1879, out of a class of 40 students, only she, at age 34, and two other white students, graduated. The rigorous training program included lectures on surgical and childbed nursing and assignment in the hospital's surgical, maternity and medical wards.

 

Sixteen months later, she was one of four who completed the rigorous course (of forty-two who started with her). After graduation she worked primarily as a private duty nurse for the next thirty years all over the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. She ended her nursing career as director of an orphanage in Long Island, New York, the position she had held for a decade. She never married.

 

In 1896, Mahoney became one of the original members of a predominately white Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (later known as the American Nurses Association or ANA). In 1908 she was cofounder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). Mahoney gave the welcoming address at the first convention of the NACGN and served as the association's national chaplain. Mary Eliza Mahoney died January 4, 1926. She is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts.

 

In 1936, the NACGN created an award in honor of Mahoney for women who contributed to racial integration in nursing. This award was then continued by the ANA after the NACGN was dissolved in 1951. In 1976, fifty years after her death, Mary Eliza Mahoney was inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame.

 

Mary Eliza Mahoney died January 4, 1926.

Last Modified: Thursday May 20, 2010




 

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