In Celebration of Women’s History Month

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926)

Mary Eliza Mahoney

By Jeanne Rabalais, MD

Mary Mahoney was the first Black woman to graduate from a nursing program and earn a professional nursing license. She received that license from the New England Hospital for Women and Children where she worked as a cook and janitor at the institution for 15 years. After graduation, Mahoney remained in Boston and became a private-duty nurse known for her strict professionalism and kind demeanor.

Mahoney is remembered for her contributions to many professional organizations. She was an early member of what would later become the American Nurses Association (ANA). She co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908. Mahoney worked in the nursing profession for over 40 years and paved the way for other African-American women and all women in the field of nursing. Mahoney was a passionate supporter of women’s suffrage and became one of the first women in Boston to register to vote when the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.

This spotlight has been brought to you by the Resident/Fellow IDEA Committee