Lillian D. Wald - a community nurse, social worker, women's rights activist, author and a leader in public policy for health care and education - was born in Cincinnati on March 10, 1867.
Wald and her family later moved to New York City, where she graduated from nursing school and entered medical school. She volunteered to provide nursing services to immigrants and poor people, and realized that a need for services to the elderly, pregnant and disabled poor existed. She dropped out of medical school and, in 1893, opened the Henry Street Settlement, also known as the Visiting Nurse Society of New York. It became a national model.
Wald persuaded the school system in New York to hire a nurse - the first system in the country to do so - and soon other schools followed suit. She persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt to create a Federal Children's Bureau and helped form the Women's Trade Union League. She also lobbied for reformed divorce laws, birth control, women's suffrage and improved nursing schools.
In 1922, the New York Times named her one of the 12 greatest living American women. Fourteen years later, she received the Order of Lincoln Medallion, recognizing a lifetime of accomplishment.
- Rebecca Goodman
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