Nursing education for Black nurses was extremely limited. Quotas existed to limit one Black student and one Jewish student admission. Segregation by law in the South and custom in the North resulted in schools of nursing particularly for Blacks. Nursing education at historically Black institutions began as a diploma program, postgraduate certificate, baccalaureate degree, associates degree, masters degree, and doctoral degree.
In the 1800’s nursing education for Blacks originated mainly in the hospital setting with a diploma. The few Black colleges and universities such as Spelman, Hampton, and Tuskegee also led to a diploma program. Advanced nursing education beyond a diploma didn’t begin until 1899 with a postgraduate nursing degree. The programs excluded Blacks and Black institutions created postgraduate degrees for nursing students. In 1916 the first baccalaureate program was created for nurses to prepare for leadership positions in hospitals and as faculty in nursing programs. In 1936, Florida A&M created the first baccalaureate program for Black nurses. The associates degree programs began in 1952. The two year community college education provided affordability, flexible admission standards based on age, race and marital status for Blacks to receive education. After the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs Board of Education Black diploma programs declined significantly.
Early Prominent Black nurses over time:
- Sojourner Truth – escaped slavery, advocated for Blacks, women and spoke before Congress advocating for nursing education and formal training.
- Harriet Tubman – known for her involvement in assisting slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, however many do not know she was considered a very capable nurse during her time.
- Mary Eliza Mahoney – the first Black Registered Nurse in the United States.
- Martha Franklin – founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908.
- Mabel Keaton Staupers – advocated for racial equality. Her efforts resulted in inclusivity for all within the US Army & the American Nurses Association.
- Estelle Massey Osborne – is the first Black nurse to receive her Masters degree in Nursing.
- Edith Bryan – is the first Black nurse to receive her PhD in 1928 from John Hopkins University.
- Elizabeth Lipford Kent – is the first Black nurse to receive her Doctoral education in Nursing in 1955 from the University of Michigan.
We are Who We Are Because they were who they Were-unknown
Carnegie ME. (2005). Educational preparation of Black nurses: A historical perspective. ABNF Journal, 16(1), 6–7. Retrieved from https://lopesalum.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cin20&AN=106633448&site=ehost-live