As we continue to highlight African American nurses who paved the way and made significant impacts in healthcare, today’s historian will highlight a nurse who made a difference in nursing through the United States Military.
Mabel Keaton Staupers set the tone for integrating African American nurses into the United States military and bridged the gap for much more.
After immigrating to the United States from Barbados during her teenage years, she earned her nursing degree at the Howard University College of Nursing in Washington, D.C. (formerly the Freedom’s Hospital School). Upon completing her degree, she worked as a private-duty nurse in 1920, at which time she joined the Booker T. Washington Sanitarium, as the Director of Nursing. Booker T. Washington Sanitarium is among the first hospitals to treat tuberculosis in African Americans. Through her research and nursing work on tuberculosis, she founded the Harlem Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association.
In addition to being instrumental in integrating nurses into the United States military, Ms. Staupers enlisted the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, along with a national letter-writing campaign, to persuade President Roosevelt and other political leaders on the need to desegregate the armed forces in the U.S.
Ms. Staupers contributions to integrate African Americans into the nursing profession earned her the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1951. She truly was a remarkable individual who paved the way for past, current, and future nurses.