DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Tifheka Davis

History 20W 

Dr. Prithi Kanakamedala 


Lillian Wald coined the term " Public Nursing" She believed health nurses must treat social and economical not simply take care of sick people. She thought public nurses should be involved with the health of the entire neighborhood and cooperate with social agencies to help improve living conditions. Wald wanted to bring awareness of the tenements and its conditions in the lower east side of Manhattan.

In 1885, Lillan Wald and Mary Brewster her fellow classmate from the New York Hospital School of Nursing moved out their tenement building into a house located in the lower east side of Manhattan. That house then became The Henry Street Nurses Settlement located at 265 Henry Street New York, NY 10002 . They enrolled six more nurses and several activists, lawyers, union organizers and social reformers. In addition to nursing, they arranged picnics ,excursions to the country, girls' clubs, cooking classes and tickets to concerts  all in the effort to give the people in the neighborhood an experience of life beyond the tenement and factory. The yard behind the house was converted to the largest playground in the lower east side, with preference given crippled children and convalescents. The lower east side of Manhattan was an area of the poor and immigrants Jewish, Irish, Italian and Chinese.( Bu, Liping, Fee, Elizabeth. The Origin of Public Health: The Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service 2010) 

A number of wealthy women and prominent philanthropists supported the Henry Street Settlement activities and the enterprises grew dramatically. More than 50 nurses joined the group and volunteers provided courses in carpentry, sewing, art, music and dance. In 1906, Wald hired her first Black Nurse after that the number of black nurses on her staff started to increased steadily. By the time she retired in 1933, Wald Managed a staff of 265 nurses who cared for 100,000 patients. The Nursing Service provided badly needed health care for the poor people that wasn’t available anywhere else. ( Bu, Liping, Fee, Elizabeth. The Orgins of Public Health: The Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service 2010)

Lillian Wald also helped also organize the first public school nursing services in New York City, as well as Lincoln House one of the first settlements with an African American clientele. She was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She also helped create the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration and the Federal Children's Bureau. Wald is important to not only New York City but the whole country because of all the  medical reforms and social changes she had contributed. She was elected into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1965.


Bu, Liping , Fee, Elizabeth. The Origins of Public Health: The Henry Street Visiting Nursing Service. American Journal of Public Health . 2010


Daniels, Doris G. Always a Sister: The Feminism D. Wald ch.3 pg.32-45. 1995 







DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.