The Public Health Nurses of Jim Crow Florida
Highlighting the long unacknowledged role of a group of pioneering professional women, The Public Health Nurses of Jim Crow Florida tells the story of healthcare workers who battled racism in a state where white supremacy formed the bedrock of society. They aimed to serve those people out of reach of modern medical care.
In the era of Jim Crow discrimination, their marginalization in medical facilities―along with the overall medical neglect to address their health―meant that many African Americans in rural communities rarely saw doctors. Christine Ardalan shows how Florida’s public health nurses took up the charge, traveling into the Florida scrub to deliver health improvement information to the homes of black and white residents, many of whom were illiterate. Drawing on a rich body of public health and nursing records, Ardalan draws attention to the innovative ways nurses bridged the gap between these communities and government policies that addressed threats of infection and high rates of infant and maternal mortality.
From the progressive era to the civil rights movement, Florida’s public health nurses worked to overcome the constraints of segregation. Their story is echoed by the experiences of today’s community health nurses, who are keenly aware that maintaining healthy lives for all Americans requires tackling the nation’s deep-rooted cultural challenges.
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