Estelle Massey Osborne

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Estelle Massey Osborne
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Estelle Massey

(1901-05-03)May 3, 1901
Palestine, Texas, United States
DiedDecember 12, 1981(1981-12-12) (aged 80)
Alma materColumbia University
Occupation(s)Nurse, educator
  • Bedford N. Riddle
  • Herman Osborne

Estelle Massey Riddle Osborne (May 3, 1901 – December 12, 1981)[1] was an African American nurse and educator. She served in many prominent positions and worked to eliminate racial discrimination in the nursing field.

Early life and education[edit]

Estelle Massey was born in Palestine, Texas in 1901, the eighth of eleven children.[2] Despite being uneducated and working in menial jobs, her parents, Hall and Bettye Estelle Massey, sent all of their children to college.[1]

Estelle received a teaching certificate from Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University), but decided to move into nursing after she was nearly killed in a violent incident while teaching at a public school.[3] She joined the first nursing class of St. Louis City Hospital #2 (later Homer G. Phillips Hospital), and became a head nurse there after graduating in 1923.[1][2]

In 1926 or 1927 she moved to New York City, to teach at the Lincoln School of Nursing[2] and the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing.[4] She attended summer sessions at Teachers College, Columbia University, and eventually attended as a full-time student with the aid of a scholarship from the Rosenwald Fund. She received a bachelor's degree in 1930, and a master's in nursing education in 1931, becoming the first African American to do so.[1][3][5][6]

She married Dr. Bedford N. Riddle in 1932.[3]


Estelle Massey Riddle became educational director at Freedmen's Hospital (now Howard University Hospital) in Washington, D.C. In 1934 she worked as a researcher for the Rosenwald Fund, then returned to Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis to become its first black director of nursing.[1]

In 1943, she was appointed as a consultant to the National Nursing Council for War Service.[2] In this role she recruited student and graduate nurses and acted as a liaison to nursing schools,[7] working to change discriminatory policies. By the end of World War II, 20 new nursing schools had begun admitting black students, the Cadet Nurse Corps had inducted 2,000 black members, and bans on black nurses had been rescinded by both the Army and Navy.[1][5]

In 1945 she became the first African American instructor at New York University's Department of Nursing Education.[1][2] In 1954 she became Associate Professor of Nursing Education at the University of Maryland.[3]

In 1972 she taught at Central Nursing School of Lincoln Junior College in Kansas City, Missouri.[4][8]

Organization memberships[edit]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Personal life[edit]

In 1932, Massey married Dr. Bedford N. Riddle. This marriage ended in divorce, and in 1947 she married Herman Osborne, public relations director of the United Mutual Life Insurance Company.[13] She had no children.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ware, Susan (2004). Notable American Women. Vol. 5. Harvard University Press. pp. 491–493. ISBN 9780674014886. Retrieved July 21, 2017 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d e Smith, Jessie Carney (December 1, 2012). "College Faculty". Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events. Visible Ink Press. p. 182. ISBN 9781578594245. Retrieved July 21, 2017 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Estelle Massey Osborne papers". New York Public Library. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  4. ^ a b " -- Estelle Massey Osborne papers". Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Feldman, Harriet R.; Rumay Alexander, G., eds. (December 19, 2011). "Historical Leadership Figures". Nursing Leadership: A Concise Encyclopedia (Second ed.). Springer Publishing. p. 397. ISBN 9780826121769. Retrieved July 28, 2017 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c Davis, Althea T. (1999). Early Black American Leaders in Nursing. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 148. ISBN 9780763710095. Retrieved July 28, 2017 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "News From the Field". American Journal of Public Health. 33 (3): 308. March 1943. doi:10.2105/AJPH.33.3.305. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "Article - Colleges in Missouri that have closed, merged, or changed their names -". Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  9. ^ Gates Jr., Henry Louis Gates; Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks, eds. (April 29, 2004). African American Lives. Oxford University Press. p. 786. ISBN 9780199882861. Retrieved July 28, 2017 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Hein, Eleanor C. (2001). "Cultural Diversity: A Celebration of Differences". Nursing Issues in the 21st Century: Perspectives from the Literature. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 126. ISBN 9780781730174. Retrieved July 28, 2017 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ a b "Estelle Massey Osborne (1901–1981) 1984 Inductee". American Nurses Association. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  12. ^ "NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing to Host 26th Annual Estelle Osborne Celebration". New York University. February 17, 2017. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  13. ^ Brown, Hattie W. (July 19, 1947). "Brooklyn Social Notes". New York Age. p. 4. Retrieved July 28, 2017 – via