Mary Eliza Mahoney

By: Daija Bruce

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Early In Life

Born May 7, 1845, in Dorchester, MA, Mary Eliza Mahoney was admitted to the nursing school of the New England hospital for women and children, in 1878. Several years after working as a private-duty nurse at the hospital for women and children, Mahoney was admitted to the hospital's nursing program. She then made history when she became the first black woman to complete nurse's training that following year. Mahoney also became one of the first black members of the nurse's associated alumnae of the United States and Canada, as well as the newly founded national association of colored graduate nurses.


Mahoney was accepted into New England Hospital's graduate nursing program on March 3, 1878. While in training, Mahoney participated in mandatory 16 hour per day ward duty, where she took care of six patients at a time. Mahoney was among three graduates out of the 40 students who began the program and the only African American awarded a diploma on August 1, 1879. After completing the 16 month program, she became the first African American graduate nurse. She worked as a nurse for the next four decades. She then devoted herself to private nursing due to the rampant discrimination against black women in public nursing at the time.


In 1993, she was inducted into the nursing Hall of Fame and received induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Mary Eliza Mahoney was counted as a Civil Rights Activist , Women's Rights Activist, and the first African American Nurse. When she was admitted to New England hospital for care on December 7,1925, Mahoney was succumbed to breast cancer on January 4,1926 at the age of 81. Numerous honors we're posthumously given to her, including the Mary Mahoney Medal, an award offered annually which signifies excellence in nursing.


"I am the eternal student...but I am not alone."
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