Mary Elizabeth Carnegie

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Mary Elizabeth Carnegie (April 19, 1916 – 20 February 2008) was an educator and author in the field of nursing, known for breaking down racial barriers. She was the first black nurse to serve as a voting member on the board of a state nursing association. She was later president of the American Academy of Nursing and edited the journal Nursing Research.

Early life[edit]

She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, received a diploma from the Lincoln School of Nurses, bachelor's degree from West Virginia State College, master's degree from Syracuse University, and doctor of public administration degree from New York University.[1]


After receiving her bachelor's degree from West Virginia State College, Carnegie took a job in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. She became a clinical instructor at St. Philip Hospital School of Nursing. While working at St. Philip, Carnegie was exposed to a different social system in the nursing world in the south.

Carnegie joined the Florida Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (FACGN) in 1945. She was elected president of the organization three years later. Traditionally, the FACGN was named a courtesy (non-voting) board member of the Florida State Nurses Association the next year. After Carnegie's service with the FACGN, the FSNA board decided to grant her full rights and responsibilities on their board. She was the first black nurse to serve on the board of a state nursing association.[2]

Between 1945 and 1953, Carnegie was a professor and dean of the nursing school at Florida A&M University.[1] She later served as president of the American Academy of Nursing and was the editor of Nursing Research. She was awarded eight honorary doctorates and was inducted into the hall of fame of the American Nurses Association.[3] She was inducted into the Virginia Nursing Hall of Fame in 2009.[4]

After developing hypertensive cardiovascular disease, Carnegie died in 2008 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She had lived there for 25 years. Carnegie had been married once; her husband died in 1954.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Sullivan, Patricia (March 7, 2008). "M. Elizabeth Carnegie, 91; Advocated for Black Nurses". Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "A Conversation with Mary Elizabeth Carnegie" (PDF). NEAA Courier. Foundation of the New York State Nurses Association. Winter 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ Giger, Joyce N.; Strickland, Ora (June 2008). "In Memoriam: Dr. Mary Elizabeth Lancaster Carnegie, Phenomenal Woman, 1916-2008". Nursing Research. 57 (3): 133–134. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Mary Elizabeth Carnegie". Virginia Nursing Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 30, 2015.