UVA Project Aims to Rediscover Stories of Black Nurses in Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - People working on a project at the University of Virginia are working to rediscover the hidden stories of black nurses from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Though UVA didn’t train black nurses in the ’50s and ’60s, it had an affiliated program that did.
Now, the Hidden Nurses Project aims to rebuild that history into awareness and recognition.
“Black nurses were at the center of establishing the American healthcare infrastructure, and it’s important that their narratives are told and this also allows us to tell other narratives,” Victoria Tucker, who's with the project, said.
The team behind the project is working hard to make sure everyone’s narratives are recognized.
Tucker’s dissertation work focuses on the history of black nurses living in Virginia during the ’50s through ’80s, and she and her team are listening to the stories of those nurses and paying special attention to those who graduated from UVA's affiliate nursing program at Burley High School.
The Hidden Nurses Project wants UVA to provide a fuller example of the stories that exist here.
“The archive space is a space where memories are held, and what we have found is even across the United States, so many archives are of white people, and they're the ones who wrote the history, they wrote their histories down, they were the first historians, but there are many, many histories,” Barbra Mann Wall, a professor who works for the project, said.
To rediscover those histories, people working on the project are also collecting artifacts, records, and oral histories from black nurses.
“But a lot of the information we’re gathering, it’s either in the mind of the nurses, it’s in their homes,” Tucker said. “They've kept extensive records, from certificates to photographs to yearbooks to newspaper articles, and a lot of this information is undocumented in the sense that it’s not public records.”
If you or someone you know has a story or artifact about a black nurse in Virginia during the ’50s to ’80s and you would like to share it with this project, click here.