Frances Reed Elliot

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Frances Reed Elliot
Born 1892
Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
Died 1965
Residence Tennessee, Maryland
Nationality American
Known for African American Red Cross Nurse

Frances Reed Elliot (1892–1965) was the first African American woman accepted into the American Red Cross Nursing Service. She earned this recognition on July 2, 1918.[1]

Early life[edit]

Elliot was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her mother was a plantation heiress and her father was a Cherokee and African American farm worker. When she was five, Elliot's mother died; shortly thereafter, her father left the area. She spent her early life in foster homes.[2]

Education and early career[edit]

Elliot received teacher training at Knoxville College and taught history for a couple of years, but she longed to be a nurse. She entered a nursing program at Knoxville College, but health issues forced her to withdraw. She later entered the Freedmen's Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1913.[2]

Her first job was as a private-duty nurse. Later, she worked at Provident Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and completed additional courses at Columbia University.[3]

American Red Cross[edit]

Initially refused for American Red Cross service on the basis of race, Elliot succeeded in joining the organization in 1918. She wore Red Cross nursing pin 1-A, with the A signifying that its holder was African American.


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  2. ^ a b "Davis, Frances (Elliott)". “The” Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century. 1. Taylor & Francis US. 2000. p. 330. 
  3. ^ Pitrone, Jean Maddern. Trailblazer; Negro nurse in the American Red Cross. New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969. 191 p.