The 20th Century: 1910 to 1919


Miss Percy Powers became the first school nurse in North Carolina in 1911. She cared for the school children in Salem (now part of Winston-Salem). She remained in this position until 1917 when the city of Winston-Salem established a health department and hired Nurse Powers as the supervising nurse.



Mary Mills, the second Mary Mahoney Award winner from North Carolina was born in Pender County. She graduated from Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing in 1934, and continued her education earning a Bachelors and Masters degree as well as a certificate in nurse midwifery. Mills was the first nursing director for the Public Health Nursing Certificate program at North Carolina College (now NCCU). She then joined the US Public Health Service earning the rank of Captain while starting nursing schools and maternal child health clinics in countries around the world.


World War I, 1914 - 1918

Although many European nations went to War in 1914, the US did not enter the War until April 6, 1917.  Thousands of nurses volunteered for service  including many from North Carolina.  Madelon "Glory" Battle Hancock, a nurse from  Asheville was the most decorated woman (not only most decorated nurse) from any country in all of WWI.  For more information about Glory Hancock see her entry in the biogaphy section of this website.  NC nurses who served and died in WWI include Lillie Dearman (Charlotte), Swannie Barker (Greensboro), Annie Revely (Greensboro), Etta Mae Perkins (Morganton),  Beulah Moody (charlotte), Lucy Page (raleigh), Alyce Baker (Ayden), Effie Ray Hatfield (Sanford) and Lillian Williams (Charlotte).  Please see the section about military nurses for a more complete list of those who served.

The American Nurse Association (ANA) drafted its first model nurse practice act. The North Carolina State Nurse Association successfully lobbied the state legislature to modify the NC Nurse Practice Act to incorporate many aspects of the model proposed by the ANA.

Willliam C. Morris's diary from OTEEN Veterans Administrative Hospital near Asheville, which discusses about the nurses in the hospital are in the western NC archives in Asheville.



National Negro Health Week, a forerunner to national Public Health week was initiated.

Passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act . Until 1914, there were no illegal drugs in the United States. Anyone could walk into a drug store and purchase cocaine, heroin, morphine or numerous other medicines.   The US Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Act making certain drugs/medications available only by physician prescription for the first time.


The American Red Cross established the Town and Country Nursing Service for rural areas nationwide. Between 1915 and 1935, the Red Cross placed public health nurses in 52 of North Carolina's 100 counties. These nurses provide the only proffessional health care available to many North Carolinians for years.


Miss S.H. Cabiness was hired as the first Director of Public Health Nursing for NC. The NC Bureau of Tuberculosis hosted all 35 public health nurses in the state at Sanitorium, NC for a meeting about pubic health issues in North Carolina. Tuberculosis was the main focus of the meeting since it was the leading cause of death at that time.

Nurse Louise Toomer, working for $3 a day, made the first survey of all the nursing schools in NC.  Her report found conditions ranging from very good to abysmal.  This report, along with later ones conducted by Nurse Edith Redwine, first official nursing school inspectress in NC, create the data needed to pass laws and guidelines standardizing nursing school curricula and nursing student living conditions across the state.  


The National League for Nursing Education issued its first Standard Curriculum for Schools of Nursing, the first nationally endorsed uniform curriculum guide for nursing training programs.

North Carolina passes a law establishing a nursing training school inspector appointed by the NCSNA. The next year, the NC League of Nursing Education is formed as a section of the North Carolina State Nurses Association. The next two decades see an increased interest in nursing education, with more carefully planned curricula, higher entrance requirements, better facilties and more highly educated nursing instructors.


Hundreds of North Carolina nurses care for those stricken with the Spanish Flu in a worldwide influenza pandemic.

Nurses in the infirmary as well as many local women  cared for students at NC State University during the 1918 Spanish Flu. The infirmary staff included an African American nurse named Ella McGuire, who recalled the pandemic years later.  Because so many students were sick, women from the Raleigh community volunteered to provide care, and two succumbed to the disease, including Eliza Riddick.

Bessie Roper of Asheville died while nursing students at UNC -Chapel Hill during the Spanish Flu edpidemic.  Nurses Eliza Riddick and Lucy Page died while nursing students at NC State University in Raleigh. A "Volunteer Nurses Memorial Fountain" was constructed in their honor in front of the  Wake County Court House.  When the old Court House was demolished the plaque on the fountain was moved to the NC State campus.

Information about Spanish Flu in Orange County including information about nurses.

See also Pitt and Carteret (Morehead City for first hand account of African American nurse who worked in the epidemic) Counties.



The North Carolina legislature appropriated funds for six full-time school nurses, hired through the NC Department of Health to travel statewide to provide services for all students up to the seventh grade, regardless of race. The first six nurses: Birdie Dunn, Cleone Hobbs, Mrs. H.P. Guffy, Flora Ray, Cora Beam and Katherine Livingston remained in their jobs for over 18 years. In the first two years, the six nurses inspect and follow up on 92,566 students and educate countless teachers and parents on issues affecting the children's health.

Rex Hospital School of Nursing students strike in 1919

Reflections of a NC private duty nurse in a letter to the editor of AJN 1919

 Cooper, Dr. George Marion, Photograph Collection, ca. 1914-1940 - The collection belonged to Dr. George M. Cooper, a pioneer public health official who was associated with the North Carolina State Board of Health for thirty five years. It mainly consists of photographs taken in conjunction with his public health career and includes views of schools, students, dentists, nurses, public buildings, scenic views, etc.  Housed at the NC State Archives in Raleigh