Minority Nurse Writer
A bit of history
The graduates of Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing (FHSN), and Howard University (HU), share an inimitable history honoring blacks in nursing, including African Americans and people of the African diaspora. This relationship was established under the direction of the United States federal government. The purpose was to train black nurses to care for freed slaves around the city of Washington, D.C.
Howard University Training School for Nurses (HUTSN) was established in 1893 and transitioned to Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1894. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the first interracial U.S. surgeon, founded the Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1894. (Incidentally, Dr. Williams also founded the first U.S. interracial hospital, Provident.) All of the esteemed faculty were master’s prepared in nursing, most graduates of Freedmen’s themselves, and with numerous achievements between them. It remained a “cooperating institution,” awarding approximately 1,587 diplomas to nurses, until its close in the early 1970s.
Freedman’s Hospital was directly linked to the post–Civil War federal Freedmen’s Bureau, established to provide emergency medical care to the many former slaves settling around the capital. Congress eventually transferred the Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing to Howard University in 1967. The School of Nursing was phased out not long after, admitting its last class in 1970, graduating them in 1973. From 1974 to present, Howard University has awarded the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Here we document the history of this relationship and the contributions of some alumnae to inspire future generations to new levels of success.