Mary Breckinridge (1881-1965)


Inspiration for Activism!

  • Volunteered as a nurse in World War I.
  • Served as public health nurse in Washington DC during an influenza

    Mary Breckinridge

    epidemic in 1916.

  • Volunteered in France from 1918-1921, providing disaster relief and organizing a Child-Hygiene and Visiting-Nurse Association.
  • Completed postgraduate studies at Columbia University in 1922-23 to learn the latest in public health, then completed her midwifery certificate in 1924 at the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies in the Woolwich district of London.
  • Founded the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies in Leslie County in 1925, which became the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) in 1928. The FNS is widely recognized as the first modern comprehensive health care system in the United States.
  • Credited with developing approaches to modern nursing services in rural communities.
  • Promoted the growth of district nursing centers and hospital facilities in southeastern Kentucky as a model for similar systems nationwide.
  • Honored on a stamp issued by the United States in 1998

More information here, and here, and here,  and here.

See first comprehensive biography published in 2015: Mary Breckinridge by Melanie Beals Goan

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