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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Woman of the Week – Mary Eliza Mahoney

Posted August 07, 2017 4:30 PM by lmno24

Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879. Mahoney was one of the first African Americans to graduate from a nursing school. She challenged the discrimination she faced while learning and practicing in a predominantly white society.

She was born in 1845 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Mahoney's parents were freed slaves, originally from North Carolina, who moved north before the Civil War.

From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. She worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children (now the Dimock Community Health Center) for 15 years before being accepted into its nursing school, the first in the United States. She was 33 years old when she was admitted in 1878.

The work was rigorous. She was required to spend at least a year in the hospital’s various wards to gain universal knowledge, as well as attend lectures and observe doctors in the field.

After completing these requirements, Mahoney graduated in 1879 as a registered nurse — the first black woman to do so in the United States.

After gaining her nursing diploma, Mahoney worked for many years as a private care nurse, earning a distinguished reputation. She worked for predominantly white, wealthy families. She quickly earned a reputation for being professional, courteous and skilled. Word of her excellent work spread and she was quickly in high demand.

She worked for many families and hoped that by meeting many, she could spread the message against discrimination and eventually make equality more accepted.

In 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. This organization attempted to uplift the standards and everyday lives of African-American registered nurses. The NACGN had a significant influence on eliminating racial discrimination in the registered nursing profession. In 1951, the NACGN merged with the American Nurses Association.

From 1911 to 1912, Mahoney served as director of the Howard Orphan Asylum for black children in Kings Park, Long Island. The Howard Orphan Asylum served as a home for freed colored children and the colored elderly. This institution was run by African Americans. Here, Mary Eliza Mahoney finished her career, helping people and using her knowledge however she knew best.

In retirement, Mahoney was still concerned with women's equality and remained a strong supporter of women's suffrage. She actively participated in the advancement of civil rights in the United States. In 1920, when women were granted the right to vote, Mahoney was among the first women in Boston to register to vote.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Eliza_Mahoney

https://www.jacksonvilleu.com/blog/nursing/mary-eliza-mahoney/

http://www.blackpast.org/aah/mahoney-mary-eliza-1845-1926

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