Blanche Catherine Hayes Sansom - early African American School Nurse

Nurse Blanche Hayes Sansom - An early African American Public Health Nurse Leader


A tribute to Nurse Sansom is on page 38 of the December 1959 Tar Heel Nurse.

                Throughout the state recently several nurses have received plaudits and recognition in various ways from their own communities where they live and work.  Because accomplishments of an individual nurse reflect honor on the entire profession, we believe all NCSNA members will be interested in the recognition which has come to these nurses.

                Mrs. Blanche Hayes Sansom recently retired after 39 years in public health nursing with the Charlotte Health Department and was the subject of a feature article in the Charlotte Observer.  As senior nurse, Mrs. Sansom was supervisor of midwives and had charge of the birth control clinic.  She was employed by the City of Charlotte in 1920 as its first full-time Negro school nurse.

                On the day of her retirement, the City and County Health Departments paid tribute to her with a party, presents, and speeches.  A former supervisor of public health nurses said of her: “While she climbed in status she never lost contact with her people.  She remained a true humanitarian.”

                Mrs. Sansom sent to members of NCSNA a special message of appreciation for the cards and letters sent to her on her retirement and these gems of wisdom gleamed from nearly 40 years of nursing: “Patients are people; learn to listen – don’t talk too much; and don’t know everything.”

                She is a graduate of St. Agnes Hospital School of Nursing, Raleigh, and had post-graduate work at Columbia University, North Carolina College, and the University of Michigan.


The St. Agnes Hospital Training School for Nurses was established in 1895. It was under the care of physicians and was registered in the State of North Carolina. Some of its outstanding graduates include: Blanche Catherine Hayes who graduated from the school in 1910. In August of that year, she was called to Rutherfordton, North Carolina on Green River Plantation to nurse an old colored Mammy. Miss Hayes found work on Green River Plantation very interesting. She was the only person with medical knowledge within 11 miles. Public health nursing was almost unknown in North Carolina at that time, but Miss Hayes did much educational work among the tenants of the plantation. She was later called to nurse the daughter of one governor-elect of North Carolina. In 1919 she did Red Cross nursing in Tarboro,North Carolina. In 1920 she was appointed to the school system in North Carolina as the first colored school nurse. In 1928 she was given a scholarship to do special work at Columbia University by the National Health Circle for Colored People.
$225.00 was used under the colored public health nursing appropriation to pay the salary of Blanche Hayes, a colored registered  nurse attached to the Health Department of Edgecombe County,  immediately under the direction and instruction of Miss Clara Ross, Public Health Nurse for Edgecombe County, for a period of three months. This enabled the Health Department to provide visiting nursing service for the colored patients during the influenza epidemic
of last year. Financing this work was of a temporary nature and was done to demonstrate the usefulness of colored public health nursing and aid the county until funds could be secured to continue the work. Blanche Hayes is now on the staff of the Charlotte Health Department. 

See also the Tar Heel Nurse December , 1952 pg 6.  Mrs. Sansom was recognized at the 50th anniversary celebration of the NCSNA.