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Mary Elizabeth Mahoney
mary elizabeth mahoney
(April 16, 1845 – January 4, 1926) was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879.

In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. The NACGN eventually merged with the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1951. She is commemorated by the biennial Mary Mahoney Award of the ANA for significant contributions in advancing equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups

IAfter gaining her nursing diploma in 1905, Mahoney worked for many years as a private care nurse, earning a distinguished reputation. From 1911 to 1912 she served as director of the Howard Orphan Asylum for black children in Kings Park, Long Island, New York.

Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States

In 1896, Mahoney was one of the original members of a predominantly white Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada. In 1911 it became the American Nurses Association (ANA). In 1908 she was cofounder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). In retirement, Mahoney was still concerned with women's equality and a strong supporter of women’s suffrage (the movement to gain women the right to vote.) In 1920, she was among the first women in Boston to register to vote. She died on January 4, 1926, aged 80.

Edelman moved in 1968 to Washington, D.C. where she continued her work and contributed to the organizing of the Poor People's Campaign of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and also became interested in issues related to childhood development and poverty-stricken children.

For over a decade after that, Mahoney helped recruit nurses to joint the organization. In 1911 she took the helm at the Howard Orphan Asylum in New York, and served there for over a year. Mahoney was deeply concerned with women's equality and a strong supporter of the movement to gain women the right to vote. When that movement succeeded with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, she was among the first women in Boston to register to vote -- at the age of 76.

Mahoney contracted breast cancer in 1923 and died in 1926. Her grave in Everett, Massachusetts, is the site of national pilgrimages. In 1936, the N.A.C.G.N. established an award in her honor (later continued by the A.N.A.) to raise the status of black nurses. She was inducted into the A.N.A.'s Hall of Fame in 1976.

The effort for equality that Mahoney launched continued. From about 2,400 in 1910, the number of African American women in nursing had more than doubled by 1930, four years after Mahoney's death.

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