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"BLACK WOMEN IN WHITE' DETAILS NURSES' STRUGGLE


Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Published: Friday, December 22, 1989
Page: P5A
Byline: ED PEEKS

BLACK WOMEN IN WHITE: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the NURSING PROFESSION, 1890-1950. BY DARLENE CLARK HINE. INDIANA University Press. 264 pp. $35 cloth. $12.95 paper.

This history of the nursing profession is another dimension of.

racial segregation and discrimination in American life and its impact on health care and training for nurses and doctors.

With the help of philanthropy, black communities North and South developed nurses training schools and hospitals. The race was generally excluded from established institutions during the first half of the 20th century.

Protest also developed against this exclusion as part of the.

growing civil rights movement led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The network of black institutions ranged from New York to New Orleans. It included Tuskegee Institute, Hampton Institute and Spelman College. "John D. Rockefeller and his wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller, financed the establishment of the nation's first black nursing training school," writes Darlene Clark Hine. "They contributed the funds necessary to establish in 1881 the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, subsequently renamed Spelman College." Other philanthropists were Julius Rosenwald and Andrew Carnegie, who made similar contributions for schools and hospitals. They enabled black self-help to do what state and local governments wouldn't or couldn't do under the separate-but-equal doctrine.

Still, the accomplishments, more often than not, failed to meet staggering needs.

By 1912, the District of Columbia and 20 states had black hospitals and nurse training schools. West Virginia had North Mountain Sanitarium, Mercer Hospital in Bluefield and Harrison Hospital in Kimball.

The segregated system paid both black nurses and doctors less than the establishment paid white nurses and doctors. Black doctors were systematically denied staff privileges even at hospitals with a Jim Crow wing for black patients.

Around 1925, Hine notes, the 2,500 black graduate nurses in the.

country largely did private duty as did white nurses. The difference was in pay. Moreover, the black nurse was more inclined to take on household chores along with nursing. Employers expected double-duty from blacks.

White nurses resented the competition, not the exploitation of.

the black nurse. It intensified the general climate of racism in the profession and the steadfast bar against black women in the American Nurses Association.

At the Jim Crow division of Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Nursing Superintendent Anne Bess Feeback, Hine writes, confessed "a frank contempt for niggers." Feeback declared, "They can't direct one another, a Negro cannot work a Negro," adding that "most of them haven't any morals." In Alabama, white nursing educator Margaret Bruesche held.



similar views. "The Negro woman has no place as a graduate nurse," she maintained.

Educators and hospital administrators exploited black and white.

student nurses who generally staffed hospitals up until the mid-1930s.

NURSING AND OTHER FEATURES OF HEALTH CARE BEGAN TO CHANGE UNDER private and government efforts stimulated by the New Deal. The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, founded in 1908, grew more influential under the guiding lights of Mabel E.

Staupers and Estelle Massey Riddle.

Former Rep. Frances Payne Bolton, a rich Ohioan, gave the black nurses association a shot in the arm with an annual $2,000 personal gift from 1934 to 1951, enabling the association to maintain a full-time executive. Moreover, Bolton introduced legislation that created the Cadet Nurses Corps in 1943, a boom to nursing and health care during World War II.

But long before that, "in many southern black communities, the black nurse, especially the public health nurse, was the most prominent, if not the first, professional health-care giver to interact with the population," Hine says.

Those of my generation can attest to that. In my Georgia community, the public health nurse was Ida Mae Ames, who was lauded as a "trained nurse," doing good among us. In my childish mind, Ithought adult admirers meant that nurse Ames rode the train.

In the years ahead, black nurses would have to fight to serve in.

World War II. Protesters against racial barriers were accused by Army brass of wanting the military to "carry out a complete social revolution against the will of the nation." But the revolution was under way and there was no stopping it.

The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses disbanded in.

1951, declaring that its goals had been accomplished. The action was premature, according to founders of the National Black Nurses Association in 1971.

Hine, a history professor at Michigan State University, has done her homework and written a readable book. Here and there are a few slips such as "German Fascism and Italian Nazism," or "Georgia's Macon County Movable School," which was actually Alabama's. The book has copious chapter notes and an extensive bibliography. It is indexed and illustrated. It contributes to health-care literature Peeks is former businesslabor editor of the Gazette.

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