@Nurses, Life Achievements and Life
Lillian Wald born at
Lillian was deeply influenced by her grandfather, Gutman Schwartz with whom she spent a major part of her childhood.
Lillian was so devoted to her Henry Street Settlement that she remained unmarried for her entire life. She, however, had a special place in heart for two of her female friends – author Mabel Hyde Kittredge and lawyer Helen Arthur.
By 1925 Lillian struggled with heart ailments and eventually in 1933 she had to quit the Henry Street Settlement due to deteriorating health.
Lillian Wald was born as the third child to Max D. and Minnie Schwartz Wald on March 10, 1867, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Her father who worked as an optical dealer came from a middle class German-Jewish family of scholars and merchants while her mother had Jewish Polish and Jewish German ancestry.
The Wald family shifted to Rochester, New York, during Lillian’s early childhood (1878), and Rochester became the hometown for Lillian.
Coming from an economically sound background, Lillian was enrolled for an expensive private schooling at Miss Cruttenden's English-French Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies where she was trained in French and German.
In 1883, at the young age of sixteen, Lillian tried for Vassar College but was not selected due to age issues. Following this, she spent the next few years travelling and serving as a newspaper correspondent.
Lillian completed her graduation in March, 1891 under the mentorship of Irene H. Sutliffe, the program’s director of nursing, following which she served at the juvenile asylum for a year and eventually resumed studies at the Woman’s Medical College for her M.D. degree.
During her education at the medical college, she also taught home nursing to people in the eastern region of New York.
She realized the sad state of the immigrants in this area when a little girl asked for help for her ill mother. She came eye to eye with reality of the poor and sick and called the experience as ‘baptism by fire’.
The poor living conditions and the lack of medical aid touched her after which she let go of her education and shifted base to that downtrodden side of New York on Jefferson Street in 1893 with her friend Mary Brewster.
They together set up the ‘Visiting Nurse Service’ in 1893 and later shifted base to Henry Street in 1895. Gradually, the team grew from 9 trained nurses in 1893 to 15 in 1900 and 27 in 1927.
The term 'public health nurse' (influenced by her ways of nursing the poor) was introduced by Lillian; following which; the New York Board of Health finally developed the first public nursing system in the world.
She was the one to introduce the national health insurance plan.
In 1903, Wald helped in the formation of the Women Trade Union League. The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) was led by Lillian Wald. It emphasized on the need of education and worked against child labor.
She also proposed the need of education for the physically disabled children, lunch programs in school to the New York City Board of Education.
The Columbia University School of Nursing and the Federal Children's Bureau were founded by Lillian Wald in 1912. Following which the Town and Country Nursing Service of the American Red Cross was also established by her.