Lillian Wald

Lillian Wald
Nurses Week Spotlight - Biography

Lillian Wald was born on March 10, 1867, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was born into a life of privilege and received an excellent education. When Wald was sixteen, she applied to Vassar in order to continue her education but was denied entry as officials at Vassar believed she was too young.

She spent the remainder of her teen years traveling the world and working as a newspaper correspondent.

Wald’s sister later became ill, and due to this experience, she was inspired to study nursing. Ward attended New York Hospital Training School for Nurses and graduated in 1891. After graduation she began working at the New York Juvenile Asylum, an orphanage.

In addition to caring for the children, Wald also taught a class on home nursing for poor immigrant families on the Lower East Side. Touched by the plight of these poor immigrant families, Wald moved into the poor immigrant neighborhoods in order to provide better care.

...she is credited with coining the term “public health nurse” to describe nurses whose work is integrated into the community. Wald believed that quality healthcare should be available to all regardless of social status, socio-economic status, race, gender, or age. Wald began advocating for better conditions and working to create resources where there were none.

It is at this time that she is credited with coining the term “public health nurse” to describe nurses whose work is integrated into the community. Wald believed that quality healthcare should be available to all regardless of social status, socio-economic status, race, gender, or age. Wald began advocating for better conditions and working to create resources where there were none.

In 1893 Wald collaborated with Mary Brewster to create the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. In 1894 Wald established the Henry Street Settlement, an organization to provide additional access to healthcare and social services to the residents of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

As part of her continued push for an increase to access to healthcare she advocated for nurses to be placed in public schools and helped pay the salaries of the first school nurses in New York City. Wald then worked with Florence Kelley and others to draft legislation that would create a government agency to protect children. This work led to the creation of Children’s Bureau.

Outside of nursing, Wald worked to increase equality. She hosted the first meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and became one of its earliest members. She was a proponent of women working outside the home and provided many employment opportunities for women at the Henry Street Settlement.

She was a prominent member of the Women's Trade Union League and a supporter of women’s suffrage. She protested the entry of the U.S. to WWI, however, once the U.S. joined the war, she began volunteering with the Red Cross to support those in need.

Wald’s work was acknowledged and appreciated by many. In 1922 The New York Times named Wald as one of the Twelve Greatest Living American Women.

Wald’s work was acknowledged and appreciated by many. In 1922 The New York Times named Wald as one of the Twelve Greatest Living American Women.

She received the Lincoln Medallion in 1936 and that same year she was also named an "Outstanding Citizen of New York". Posthumously Ward was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans and the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Lillian Wald died on September 1, 1940, due to a cerebral hemorrhage. A memorial tribute to Wald drew over 2,000 mourners and featured speeches by the mayor, governor, and president. Wald leaves behind an incredible legacy in organizations and techniques that still continue today.

References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lillian_Wald
https://www.nursebuff.com/greatest-nurses-in-history/
https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/lillian-w…
https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/Story_of_CB.pdf
http://naacp.org/about/history/howbegan/index.htm
https://fomh.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Lillian_Wald.pdf

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