Category: Beyond Florence

Nursing Justice: Filipino Immigrant Nurse Activism in the United States

When you think about trailblazing women in American nursing history, do Filipino nurses come to mind? Probably not. But they should. The pioneering cancer prevention work of Ines Cayaban in the 1940s, the organizing work of Esther Hipol Simpson to defend two immigrant nurses wrongfully accused of murder in the 1970s, and the current leadership… Read more →

Nursing for Generations: Kiowa Peoplehood in the Work of Laura Pedrick

When smallpox erupted across the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Reservation in 1900, local people began to panic. Experienced Kiowa and Comanche healers knew smallpox as a Western disease that usually required Western treatment. Rocky plains made difficult passage for the horse-drawn buggies that Charles Hume and Harry Wheeler, the reservation’s two government physicians, used to… Read more →

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail and Histories of Native American Nursing

I first encountered Susie Yellowtail (Crow) in a July 1934 letter in which a physician on her reservation condemned her for making “selfish” requests on health workers’ time and resources.1 The physician was angry that Yellowtail refused to accept hospital services for the birth of her child, and he made it clear that the Crow… Read more →

The Racist Lady with the Lamp

Nursing historiography is centered on whiteness. Even worse, nursing history revolves largely around a single white nurse: Florence Nightingale. This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean nurses understand who Nightingale was. There are nurse historians doing incredible and diverse work, but in general, nursing, both as a profession and as an academic discipline, promotes a view of Nightingale… Read more →

Marie Branch and the Power of Nursing

In June 2020, when millions took to the streets in the midst of a pandemic to protest police attacks on Black lives, public statements began to trickle out of major nursing organizations. The American Nurses Association (ANA) called racism “a public health crisis,” while the American Association of Colleges of Nursing declared that “racism will… Read more →

Constructing the Modern American Midwife: White Supremacy and White Feminism Collide

The year 2020 marks one of those global tipping points – time divided into pre-COVID and the promise of after COVID, as well as open rallying cries to topple white patriarchal supremacy. Serendipitously, it also marks the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, per the World Health Organization. We were excited: as two practicing,… Read more →

Creating Community and Finding Connection: A Black Nurse’s Experience in Vietnam, 1966–67

Nobody wanted Elizabeth Allen in Vietnam. From her master’s advisor who questioned why on earth she would want to enlist in the first place, to the Air Force that dragged its feet on her application, to the Army, which initially wanted to assign her to teach at a military-sponsored nursing program at the University of… Read more →

Beyond Florence: Valuing Nurses in the History of Health Care

Before COVID-19 was even a blip on the horizon, the World Health Organization had declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This year was chosen because 2020 marks 200 years since the birth of the so-called Mother of Modern Nursing, Florence Nightingale. But Nightingale is a problematic figure for nursing. There is little… Read more →