Collecting and Disseminating Information About White, African American and Cherokee Nurses in Knoxville, TN 1900-1965

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The experiences of minority nurses in Appalachia as across the country, from 1900-1964, varied by ethnicity. African American nurses were denied admission to "White" schools of nursing and were banned from employment in White hospitals. African American patients were admitted to small, inadequate "Negro" or "Colored" wards in Knoxville area hospital basements, which were often described a dark, cold and damp, if they were admitted at all. In response to these dire conditions, the first African American hospital in Appalachia, the Eliza B. Wallace Hospital was founded on the Knoxville College campus in 1907. The school added a nurse training program which was the first and for many years the only nurses training available to Appalachian African American women. The Helen Mae Lennon Hospital, a second hospital for African Americans was founded in the 1920s in Knoxville and also had a nurse training program.

During this era,the U S government had an "assimilation policy" of "Americanizing" or "civilizing" Native Americans. Eastern Band Cherokee Indian women could be and were admitted to White schools of nursing including Knoxville General Hospital's program. they could and did join the US Army Nurse corps in WWII.

The experiences of both groups will be examined along side the White nurses experiences.


Johnson City, TN

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