[Montgomery, Alabama:]: National Civic Federation, George Peabody College for Teachers, [n.d., 1915]. First edition of this fundraising brochure for the Ellen Wilson Chair of Rural Nursing, “the most far-reaching memorial to the late Mrs. Woodrow Wilson.”. A very good copy of a rare and fragile item. Single sheet of buff paper, folded. Printed with a bust of Ellen Wilson, late wife of Woodrow Wilson. Toning and foxing to edges. 6 x 9 in.  pp. Item #17519
After the death of First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson (1860 – 1914), who was born and raised in Georgia, Peabody College established a chair position with a hundred-thousand-dollar endowment in her honor. The funding, which would allow nurses to receive training for service in rural areas, was raised by “the whole womanhood of the South, organized and unorganized.” Marie Bankhead Owen (1869 – 1958), the Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Chair of the Country Life Committee of the National Civic Federation, led the fundraising efforts.
This brochure highlights the importance of public health intervention in the South, where healthcare access was handicapped by racism, lack of education, scarce resources in rural areas, poverty, and food insecurity. The course described would train nurses in tending to the sick, identifying causes of disease (“mosquito breeding places, polluted water supply, sources of typhoid infecting flies”), training parents and home healthcare providers, assisting government officials in developing public health programs, and more. Though Ellen Wilson died just seventeen months into her tenure as First Lady, she is remembered for her efforts to improve housing conditions for Black residents of Washington, D.C. Her efforts resulted in the passage of a minimum housing standards law for the area in 1914. OCLC records two copies: Birmingham Public Library in Alabama and Loma Linda University in California.