Margaret M Allemang Centre for the History of Nursing
Bulletin Description Bulletin Archives Membership
Description Bulletin Archives Membership





Margaret M. Allemang Centre for Nursing History

Editor: Natalie Riegler, RN, PhD. 3 Dromore Crescent, Willowdale, Ontario, M2R 2H4.
TEL: 416-221-5632 E-MAIL:


BOOK REVIEW: By Natalie Riegler

Carnegie, Mary Elizabeth, DPA, RN, FAAN. The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing: 1854-1984. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, April 1986. pp.xviii + 254, illus. 134. ISBN 0-397-54602-5.

I would recommend that this book, despite its errors and need for editing should be part of a nursing history library. A bookshelf of such volumes must be balanced by the inclusion of writings which make us aware of the importance of all nurse struggles and accomplishments.

Carnegie has provided us with a catalogue of people and organizations, in which most of the illustrations are those of Black nurses who have participated in the provision of nursing, primarily in the USA, since the Crimea War to present day. It is neither a critical analysis of events or a revisionist approach to nursing history but is meant to provide for the 1980s nurse, whether Black or non-Black, "historical data on the heritage" of Black nurses(ix).

The book begins with the nursing experience of Mary Grant Seacole, a Black nurse from Jamaica, in the Crimea at the same time as Florence Nightingale, and closes with Vernice Ferguson, a Black nurse, who in July 1980 became Chief of the Nursing Department at the Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. In so chronicling the travails of the Black nurses as they fought for equality, Carnegie has brought together the Associations and events with which they have been involved for over 100 years.

Her longest chapter is a chronology of Associations, beginning with the 1893 antecedents of the National League for Nursing and the struggle of southern Black nurses for membership in the National League of Nursing Education through to the 1973 formation of the American Academy of Nursing in which, by 1984, twenty-six of the 492 regular fellows and two of the twenty-three honorary fellows were Black nurses.

As massive a work as Carnegie has undertaken in this publication she has committed at least two major errors and omitted reference to an important study, all of which are relevant to Canadian nurses. Unfortunately, neither Anna Temple's brief review of Carnegie's book in the Canadian Nurse (February 1988: 44) nor Eura Lennon's longer assessment in the Nursing Outlook (May/June 1987: 146) point this out. Firstly, Carnegie states, "in 1912 the Canadian nurses discontinued their membership" in the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses in the United States and Canada "in favor of establishing their own national organization" (65-66). According to Canadian history the organization, to which she refers, the Canadian Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses, was formed in 1907 and in 1917 changed its name to the Canadian Association of Nursing Education"(CANE) (CNA, The Leaf and the Lamp, 1968, 83-84). Secondly, she writes that the Canadian members of "The Nurses' Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada" in 1911 "withdrew from the Association and organized their own society--the Canadian Nurses' Association" (70). The formation of the CNA was not that immediate or straightforward. The Canadian Nurses' Association was the result of the merge in 1924 between the Canadian National Association of Trained Nurses, (formed in 1908 by a group of nurses) and CANE. (CNA, The Leaf and the Lamp, 1968, 83-85). Carnegie can be forgiven for truncating the development of Canadian nursing as that is not her purpose for this book, but it behooves her, as a former student at the University of Toronto and editor emeritus of Nursing Research to keep the facts as exact as possible.

Finally in referring to the surveys of Black schools of nursing done in 1924, 1932, and 1944 Carnegie has omitted the survey completed by Ethel Johns, for the Rockefeller Foundation in 1925. Johns' report, described by Darlene Clark Hine in her article "The Ethel Johns Report: Black Women in the Nursing Profession, 1925."(Journal of Negro History Fall 1982: 212-228), should take its place with the other three surveys: Hospital Library and Service Bureau, Nina Gage and Alma Haupt, and Estelle Massey Riddle (Osborne) and Rita E. Miller (Dargan).

However, Carnegie has added to our roster of Canadians who have contributed to nursing in the USA: the lesser known Jessie Sleet Scales, born in Stratford, Ontario, became the first known Black public health nurse in the USA.

It is unfortunate that a book which provides so much data should be such a boring study. Instead of reading from cover to cover the history of the Black nurses' struggle for recognition and acceptance, the reader is advised to select the items of interest to be examined; not because of its substance but because of Carnegie's writing. Her style, similar to an earlier article, "Black Nurses at the Front" in the American Journal of Nursing (1984: 1250-1252), lacks vitality: it suffers from one sentence paragraphs, monotonous sentence and paragraph structure, and a lack of coherency.

Nevertheless, I do agree with Temple that the book offers serious students of Black nursing history information which may provide "a stimulus to further work"(44).


Notice seen in UofT's Bulletin (26 September 1988): 5,

"Would like to hear from scholars working on biographies of Canadians who died between 1901 and 1925, especially those who are not among the leading figures of the period."

Anyone interested in writing a biographical entry for the volume should contact the DCB, in English or French, at 243 College Street, Fourth Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1R5.

This might be the time to place on their DCB file, those biographies and authors which could be available for the volume following 1901-1925.


JOURNAL ARTICLES: I (NR) came across the following items while browsing the library shelves.

Dangle, Ruth Bope, and Kathleen Flynn. "Historical Perspective." In Core Curriculum for Oncology Nursing, ed. Constance R. Ziegfeld, 375-390. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1987.

A chronology of events in the USA, in four sections: 1) Cancer: The Disease, 2) Cancer Therapy, 3) Cancer Nursing Developments, and 4) Study Questions.

Feather, Joan. "Hospitals in Saskatchewan in Territorial Days." Saskatchewan History XL (Spring 1987): 62-71.

Parker-Conrad, Jane E. "A Century of Practice: Occupational Health Nursing." AAOHN Journal 36 (April 1988): 156-161.

Shoup, Anita Jo. "The Nurse as Circulator: Historical Perspective, Future Possibilities." AORN [Assoc'n of Operating Room Nurses Journal] 47 (May 1988): 1231-1240.

NEW BOOKS: which I found in serendipitous fashion.

Bolton, Angela. The Maturing Sun: An Army Nurse in India, 1942-45. London: Headline [pb],1988. $5.95 (Can.$).

Diem, E. C., R. Z. Hildebrand, L.J. Kokocinski, and P. A. Sevean, eds. I Pledge Myself: Nursing Years 1870-1945, A Documentary. Thunder Bay: By the authors, Thunder Bay, 1979.

[Nursing Years for the District of Thunder Bay 1870-1945.]

Hollobon, Joan. The Lion's Tale: A History of the Wellesley Hospital 1912-1987. Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 1987.

Mitchinson, Wendy and Janice Dickin McGinnis, eds. Essays in the History of Canadian Medicine. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart [pb], 1988. $14.95.

Prentice, Alison, Paula Bourne, Gail Cuthbert Brandt, Beth Light, Wendy Mitchinson, and Naomi Black. Canadian Women: A History. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. $24.93.

Rosenberg, Charles E. The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America's Hospital System. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1987. $32.50.

Strong-Boag, Veronica. The New Day Recalled: Lives of Girls and Women in English Canada 1919-1939. Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books, 1988. $12.95.

May I close with a statement and a question? To all of you:

"`Tis weary watching wave by wave,

And yet the tide heaves onward,

We climb like corals grave by grave,

But beat a pathway upward,

We're driven back in many a fray

But ever strength we borrow,

And where the vanguard rests to-day,

Our rear shall rest to-morrow."


Now does anyone out there know who wrote these lines which were used by Mary Agnes Snively in her Annual Report for the Toronto General Hospital Training School for Nurses, 6 November 1891, 8?


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