Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

The Faces of the African American National Biography

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Mabel Keaton Staupers (1890–1989)

Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.

Mabel Staupers was instrumental in winning full integration for black nurses into the American nursing profession during the Great Depression and World War II. She played a pivotal role in bringing about the desegregation of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in the turbulent period following Pearl Harbor. An immigrant from Barbados in the West Indies, Staupers became aware of the wide disparity between black and white healthcare when surveying the health needs of residents in her Harlem community for the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association in 1922. Her desire to reform the system and improve healthcare for the black community propelled her to become executive secretary of the Harlem Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association and of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. With this experience and a keen awareness of political timing, she successfully pressured the government to admit black nurses into the armed forces during WWII, and after the war went on to achieve the integration of the American Nursing Association in 1948.

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