She Became The First Black Woman In America To Receive A Master’s Degree In Nursing In 1931 And Helped Push The U.S. Navy To Lift Its Ban On Black Nurses In 1945 - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

It’s Black History Month and the perfect time to celebrate and remember some amazing Black women in history.

One of those women who deserves more praise for her historical life is Estelle Osborne, who paved the way for Black nurses by becoming the first Black woman to receive her master’s degree in nursing in the 1930s.

Estelle was born in a small town in Texas in 1901 and was one of eleven children. She attended Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College for two years. She earned a teaching degree there but decided to move on to nursing school as she became passionate about caring for others.

Estelle then attended a nursing school in St. Louis. At the time, only 14 nursing schools in the country accepted Black students. After completing her nursing degree at the Graduate School of Nursing at St. Louis City Hospital in 1923, Estelle began making history by becoming the first Black nurse to receive the Julius Rosenwald Fund scholarship.

A few years later, Estelle was accepted to attend the prestigious Columbia University in New York City, where, in 1931, she became the first Black nurse to receive a master’s degree in nursing education.

While working hard as a student, Estelle taught at two local nursing schools and was the first Black instructor at the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing.

Estelle’s fascinating career did not stop there. After getting her master’s degree, she got a job as a researcher for the Rosenwald Fund, where she researched ways to bring better health education to Black rural communities in the deep South.

Estelle remained in New York during the mid-1930s when she became President of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses to help fellow Black nurses who were rejected by the American Nurses Association for racist and unjust reasons.

In 1940, Estelle returned to St. Louis when she was named superintendent of nurses at Homer G. Phillips Hospital, making her the first Black woman to hold the position. She later became the director of the large hospital’s nursing school. – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

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