African American and Cherokee Nurses in Appalachia

A History, 1900–1965


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About the Book

Few career opportunities were available to minority women in Appalachia in the first half of the 20th century. Nursing offered them a respected, relatively well paid profession and—as few physicians or hospitals would treat people of color—their work was important in challenging health care inequities in the region. Working in both modern surgical suites and tumble-down cabins, these women created unprecedented networks of care, managed nursing schools and built professional nursing organizations while navigating discrimination in the workplace. Focusing on the careers and contributions of dozens of African American and Eastern Band Cherokee registered nurses, this first comprehensive study of minority nurses in Appalachia documents the quality of health care for minorities in the region during the Jim Crow era. Racial segregation in health care and education and state and federal policies affecting health care for Native Americans are examined in depth.

About the Author(s)

Phoebe Ann Pollitt has practiced nursing in Appalachia for more than 30 years. She is an associate professor of nursing at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Her professional research interests are nursing history and health disparities.

Bibliographic Details

Phoebe Ann Pollitt

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7965-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2216-3
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Part I: Historical Overview of Segregated Health Care in Appalachia 5

Part II: History of Individual States and the Qualla Boundary 51

Georgia  51

Kentucky  56

North Carolina  72

Qualla Boundary  92

Tennessee 110

Virginia 141

West Virginia 164

Epilogue 186

Appendix A: Timeline of Events in African American and Cherokee Nursing in Appalachia,
1900–1965 191

Appendix B: List of Registered Nurses by State, 1897–1965 196

References 211

Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The research done for the book is impressive. Pollitt gives an unprecedented, thorough look at the the history of African American nurses and Eastern Band Cherokee nurses, as well as African American hospitals in 20th–century Southern Appalachia”—Appalachian Journal
  • “The book fills several historiographical holes. It adds to the scant literature on African Americans in Appalachian history”—Journal of Southern History
  • “In-depth examination of the challenging and prejudicial environments for female nurse wannabes from African American and Eastern Band Cherokees, that characterized the first half of the American 20th century. Pollitt paints an accurate, yet disturbing picture that these women faced…Pollitt has chronicled their struggle for acceptance and recognition for those aspirants who held their heads high and persevered”—Watermark