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Wed, 04.19.1916

Mary Lancaster Carnegie, Nurse, and Administrator born

Mary Lancaster Carnegie

The birth of Mary Elizabeth Lancaster Carnegie occurred on this date in 1916. She was a Black nurse, activist, and administrator.

From Baltimore, MD, her parents were Adeline Beatrice Swann and John Oliver Lancaster.  Young Lancaster spent most of her youth with her aunt & uncle due to her parent's divorce. She had an after-school job in her youth at an all-white cafeteria called the Allies Inn.  A graduate of Dunbar H.S., she moved to New York with disappointment following for lack of work. In 1934, she applied and was accepted at Lincoln Hospital School of nursing.

Two years later, with an aptitude for the curriculum and her instinctive organizational skills, Lancaster was chosen to serve as hostess at the convention of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. In 1942, she received her B.A. in sociology from West Virginia State College. One year later, as assistant director of nursing at Hampton University, Lancaster built the first B.A. program for nursing in Virginia. She married Eric Carnegie in 1944. In 1945 she became the first dean of the school of nursing at Florida A&M University.

Her activism for equality paved the way for many after her as members of the Florida State Nurses’ Association. Her marriage ended in 1954, but her career continued with several degrees and awards. Carnegie received her doctorate in administration in 1972 from New York University.   She wrote two books, The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing, 1854-1984, 1986, and The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing, 1854-1990, 1992.

Elizabeth Carnegie died February 20th, 2008, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

To Become a Nurse




Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

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