Educating the Black Professional Nurse in Virginia: Race, Place, and Politics 1891-1939

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Brooks, Charemon, Nursing - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wall, Barbra, Nursing, University of Virginia

Since its inception, organized nursing has excluded Black people and others of color, tolerating, and practicing a segregated system of exclusion. This study focuses on a period when White Southerners were searching for a solution to the bi-racial power structure that developed after the Civil War. Building on the historical studies of M. Elizabeth Carnegie, Darlene Clark Hine, and James Anderson, using archival work and textual analysis of documents, this dissertation aims to identify and analyze Black nursing students’ experiences from 1891 to 1939, using two Black schools for nursing in Virginia, Hampton University School of Nursing and St. Philip School of Nursing. These unique experiences are analyzed using the “outsider within” theoretical framework of Patricia Collins. Black women constantly faced negative stereotypical and controlling images as the White nursing elite worked to maintain Black subordination and invisibility. Black women resisted these attacks by forging spaces for themselves in their own nursing schools, where they used their skills to provide health care to Black and White community members. These women accepted segregation, at least temporarily, while they shaped their own institutions which they intended to control. This study underscores fundamental tensions over the essence of education in American nursing and highlights issues that remain contested in the areas of resources and financial support for Black nurses and their education.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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