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  • Writer's pictureRicki King

Iowa's Only Registered Negro Nurse

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

A friend shared this July 1908 story with me about Lulu V. Nelson. The text of the story is transcribed and follows as printed in The Register and Leader from Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa's only registered negro nurse

Iowa's Only Registered Negro Nurse

In Miss Lulu V. Nelson. Des Moines has a young negro woman who has done things In spite of the obstacles that confront every negro young woman who tries to do something better than has been the lot of her forbears. She is a skilled trained nurse, a graduate of reputable institutions, and the only negro young woman who has ever passed the examination of the state board of health, necessary to state registration. She took the examination in January with seven other trained nurses, and made an aver- age of 86 1-5 per percentcent.

Miss Nelson is a graduate of the nurses’ training school of Provident hospital. In St. Louis. after a year’s practice in that city, she came to Des Moines to attend Drake University, but she soon found such bright prospects for establishing herself In her work, that she began practice as a nurse, and she has since been employed by some of the best physicians and surgeons of this and adjoining cities and towns. Her specialty is surgery and especially obstetrical surgery. In Provident hospital she ranked as one of the best surgical nurses ever graduated there.

Miss Nelson is an intelligent young woman and attractive in manner and conversation She has ambitions for the best and she has taken the summer for special work in the Drake university summer school. Miss Nelson found no bar against her among the nurses of Des Moines, no color line drawn. Instead, she was received in a most friendly spirit when her merit and qualifications became to know and she has had the co-operation of the white nurses of the city in getting established.

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