Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Nursing

Graduates at the Mercy-Douglass School of Nursing

a black and white photograph of nine African-American women in white nursing uniforms and caps. An African-American man in a suit stands with them.

Mercy-Douglass Hospital trained African American nurses at a time when they were barred from other medical schools. In its 65 years of operation, hundreds of nurses were trained by the hospital’s School of Nursing. (Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing)

Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

Mercy-Douglass Hospital trained African American nurses at a time when they were barred from white nursing schools. Dr. Nathan F. Mossell, the first African American to earn a degree in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, founded the Frederick Douglass Hospital and School for Nurses in 1895. In 1907, Dr. Eugene T. Hinson, who previously served on the Board of Directors at Douglass Hospital, established Mercy Hospital. In 1948, after a decade of debate and financial strife, the two hospitals were merged. In 1955, the combined hospitals built a new facility at Fiftieth Street and Woodlawn Avenue in West Philadelphia, but continued to be plagued by financial problems. The School for Nurses graduated its last class in 1960. In its 65 years of operation, hundreds of African American nurses were trained by Mercy-Douglass.

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