More than Just a Nurse
June 16, 2011
Lillian Wald: More than Just a Nurse
"As a social worker, nurse, public health advocate, and settlement leader, Lillian D. Wald committed her life to helping others" ("Lillian D. Wald Biography," n.d.). Lillian Wald was born in Cincinnati, OH on March 10, 1867. It wasn't until her sister became ill that Lillian took an interest in nursing. She then went on to school at New York Hospital Training School for Nurses. After graduation, Wald entered the Women's Medical College where she hoped to become a MD. However, during her time in school, she worked with the poor on New York's lower east side and felt that being there was her true calling. She quit medical school and moved closer to the poor to help them (Thomson Corporation, 2006). With the help of her friend, Mary Brewster, Wald founded the Henry Street Settlement which would become "the model for similar settlements in the United States, Canada, and Europe" (Falk, 2005).
In the early 1900's, poor people only went to the emergency room during extreme situations and could not afford to go to regular doctor visits, so they stayed home when they got sick. The Henry Street Settlement not only helped to bring health care services to the poor, but it also helped to provide community services such as help with homework for the children, assistance with housing, and even recreational activities ("Lillian Wald," 2010). Lillian Wald raised funds to support the Henry Street Settlement by fundraising and persuading others to donate to the cause.
Wald actively sought to integrate all of the Henry Street classes. To Wald, she only saw people that needed help, not the color of their skin. She also participated in protests against the KK and its beliefs in white power. Due to her extreme opposition to war and violence, Wald helped lead a rally against World War I in 1914. After the war, she helped to create the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Falk, 2005).