Three black women in nurse's uniforms.

Black Student Nurses Around the World

By Alexsandra Mitchell

In the 1940s and 50s, when the United Nations and the World Health Organization were new, an organization called the Helene Fuld Health Foundation, dedicated to the “relief of poverty, suffering, sickness and distress,” collected a series of photographs of student nurses from countries all over the world. In this period the nurses’ uniform was an important symbol of the professionalization of nursing and the nurses’ commitment to humanitarian values.

This gallery of images represents a wide range of nurses throughout the African Diaspora.  There are images of nurses from Dakar to Madagascar, Congo to Ancon, including my personal favorite—the doppelganger of tennis champion Serena Williams—Jamaica.  Enjoy taking a virtual photographic tour of images of Black student nurses from around the world!

See the whole collection of Helene Fuld Health Foundation images in the Images from the History of Medicine database and learn more about the Helene Fuld Health Foundation in the National Library of Medicine’s recently published book Hidden Treasure in “International Nurse Uniform Photograph Collection, Helene Fuld Health Foundation,” an article written by Anne Marie Rafferty, dean of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London. See images from that article on Pinterest.

portrait of Alexsandra MitchellAlexsandra Mitchell was a 2013 Association of Research Libraries Career Enhancement Program Fellow in the History of Medicine Division and a Brooklyn based international research scholar.

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