Mary Lewis Wyche - 1858 – 1936 First President of NCNA 1902-1907
Mary Lewis Wyche was born in Vance County in 1858. After fulfilling many family responsibilities, in 1894 she graduated from Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing in 1894. Moving to Raleigh after graduation, Wyche founded the Rex Hospital Training School for Nurses, the first nursing school in the state. In 1901-1902 Wyche organized the North Carolina State Nurses Association. Through NCNA's efforts the North Carolina General Assembly passed the country's first nurse registration law in March 1903. When the NC Board of Nursing was formed after the registration law passed, Wyche served on the board for six years. Another successful project was creating a home in Black Mountain, Dunnwyche, for tubercular/sick nurses. In 1925 she retired and returned to her family home near Henderson, where she wrote The History of Nursing in North Carolina. She was an active member of the Methodist church.
Constance Pfohl- 1870-1959 Second President of NCNA 1908-1913
Constance Pfohl was born in Winston-Salem in 1870 and after graduating from St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing in Bethlehem, PA in 1895 she returned home to practice private duty nursing. Pfohl was a leader in organized nursing in North Carolina from the very beginning. She was a founding member of NCNA and served as its Secretary from 1903-1907 and then as its second President from 1908-1913. During these same years 1904-1908 she was President of the NC Board of Nursing. In 1910 she organized the first Red Cross chapter in the state. In her retirement she remained active in community organizations and the Moravian church in Salem.
Cleone Hobbs – 1872- 1940 Third President of NCNA 1914-1916
Cleone Hobbs was born in Clinton in 1872 and graduated from the St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing in Bethlehem, PA in 1897. From 1900-1907 she was the only nurse at Women's College (now UNC-G) where she also taught courses in hygiene and physiology. Hobbs was a founding member of NCNA. She served on the Board of Nursing from 1904-1908 and then as its President from 1909-1912. Soon after, she served as President of NCNA from 1914-1916. Hobbs served in the US Army Nurse Corps in World War 1. After the War, she was the first nurse hired by the state of North Carolina to be a traveling school nurse, crossing the state inspecting children in grades 1-7, a position she held for over 20 years. She spent her retirement years in Charlotte and died there in 1940.
L. Eugenia Henderson – 1875-1961 Fourth President of NCNA 1917-1919
Henderson was born in Charlotte in 1874 and graduated from the Maryland University Hospital School of Nursing in Baltimore in 1901. She returned to North Carolina to be the nurse for Salem College in Winston – Salem, from 1901-1907. Her next position was as Superintendent of both the hospital and school of nursing at Twin Cities Hospital, the first hospital in Winston-Salem. After moving back to Charlotte, she served as Superintendent of Presbyterian Hospital. Henderson was a founding member of the NCNA and served as its treasurer and later its fourth president from 1917-1919. She was also a member of the Board of Nursing from 1912-1914. Henderson passed away in Charlotte in 1961.
It is reflective of the restrictive roles women could play in the early years if the twentieth century that none of the first four Presidents of NCNA were married or had children. At that time, most women had to choose between focusing on a profession or a family. Because NCNA in these years was restricted to white women, all of the early president were white women.
Articles and Publications
Pollitt P. (2021). Let’s Start at the Very Beginning. Tar Heel Nurse. October 2021:20. NCDocks version available: https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/asu/f/Pollitt_Phoebe_2021_Lets%20Start%20Very%20Beginning.pdf. Publisher version of record available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edo&AN=153440082&site=edslive&scope=site