Nurse Blanche Catherine Hayes Sansom
Orchids to Nurses … (From the 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 schools.
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.
From the Afro American newspaper 10-17-1931 p.18 article "Nurses elect":
The NC Association of Colored Graduate Nurses met at St. Augustine College to formally receive the Articles of Incorporation from the Secretary of State, adopt bylaws and elect officers. Mrs. Sansom was elected President of the Association.
Blanche Hayes Sansom was a NC native. Her father was Reverend W.B. Hayes and he served in the NC Reconstruction Legislature. Her brother, Reverend W.B. Hayes, Jr served the Mt. Olive Baptist Church. She graduated from St. Agnes School of Nursing in Raleigh, NC in 1910 and did post graduate work in public health at Columbia University in New York City in 1928 paid for by the National Health Circle for Colored People. Her first job as at the Green River PLantation in Rutherford County. In 1919 she worked for the American Red Cross Town and Country Nursing Service in Tarborro, NC. After a career in parts of NC and Fla. she became the first African American school nurse in NC in Charlotte, NC in 1920. On November 26, 1930 she married Reverend David H. Sansom in Maxton in Robeson County, NC. He worked for the American Bible Society based in Charlotte, NC.
The August 27, 1920 Charlotte News (p.3) in an article titled "Plans are for more careful examination of pupils than heretofore" states that Blanche Hayes will inspect the health of the Negro School Children in Charlotte.
The Freeman newspaper in Tampa FLorida reports in its May 18, 1915 issues on p.10 "Blanche Hayes, a graduated trained nurse is quite an acquisition to Tampa's young society".
From the book Pathfinders by Adah Thoms (1985):
St. Agnes is well respresented in the work of one of its outstandingj graduates = Blanche Catherine Hayes. Miss Hayes, R.N. was born in Lumberton, N.C. Her father, William P. Hayes was a Methodist Episcopal minister with a family of 11 children. He owned a horse and buggy and when he went to make his pastoral calls it was always a great pleasure for Blanche to accompany him. It was during her childhood days while accompanying her father on his visits, especially to the sick, that she was inspired to become a nurse. In the fall of 1907 she entered St. Agnes Hospital, Raleigh, N.C. to begin her course in nursing. She was graduated from the school in 1910. She did private duty nursing a short while in her hometown, Maxton, N.C. In August 1910 she was called to Rutherfordton, N.C. on Green River Plantation to nurse an old colored Mammy who ahd nursed the Coxe family for forty years ... there was not a doctor within 11 miles and everyone on the Plantation, white or colored called the nurse for aid. Public health nursing was almost unknown in NC at that time but Miss Hayes did much educational work among the tenants of Green River PLantatrion. Four years were spent there ...
After returning to her home for a week's rest she was called to nurse the daughter of Angus Wilton McLean who was then chairman of the Democratic Party of NC and later became governor of NC ... in 1919 she went to Tarboro NC to do Red Cross work. A generalized program was carried on there touching the schools, city and county. The work was very hard in Tarboro as the people did not understand what a public health nurse meant to them and resented having her come into their homes. ... Another piece of work attempted was the training of midwives ... In 1920 she accepted a postion as school nurse in Charlotte, N.C. the first coloed nurse ever employed by the school system so the entire work had to be organized.
See a brief clip of a 1941 movie filmed at the 2nd ward School in Charlotte showing Mrs. Sansom working in the school found on the Mecklenburg County page.