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The Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association will celebrate its 26th Biennial Reunion Aug. 14-15. The event will be virtual via Zoom or telephone. The alumni association keeps alive the history of the school that trained black women to become nurses at predominately black Lincoln Hospital in Durham. To donate or register, contact Lottie Hall at (919) 568-8458 or email

Below is a brief history of the nursing school provided by the alumni association.

Lincoln School of Nursing

In 1901, on the corner of Proctor Street and Cozart Avenue, a frame structure was erected to serve as a hospital for the Black community. Washington Duke had planned to erect a monument in memory of the slaves who had served his family during the antebellum period. Credit is given to Drs. Aaron M. Moore, Stanford L. Warren and John Merrick who convincingly argued that a hospital for descendants of slaves would be more serviceable than a monument.

Although the hospital was for the care of Black people, it became obvious that there was a need to have trained nurses.  Through the special efforts of Dr. Charles Shepard and Julia Latta, Lincoln Hospital Nurse Training School was founded in 1903.

Latta, co-founder of the school, served as superintendent in a dual role from 1903-11.  There were six superintendents/directors over the course of the school’s operation from 1903-1971. 

The original program was a two-year diploma program until 1915, when it was extended to three years. The school admitted two classes a year until 1945, and then classes were admitted only once a year.  Admission requirements included a high school diploma and the addition of an entrance exam beginning in the 1950s.

Instruction and supervision of students were done by physicians and nursing supervisors within the hospital. Initially, the tuition was free, and students provided much service to the patients. In later years, students experienced a rise in tuition but continued to provide service to the hospital.

As a result of a fire in 1922 that partially destroyed the facility and the need for more space, Lincoln Hospital and the School of Nursing moved to its second location on Fayetteville Street and Linwood Avenue.

Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing graduated 614 young women who were prepared to meet the challenges of nursing.  Graduates have achieved international, national and state recognition for notable contributions to nursing. There are many who have been recognized as “the first” in numerous areas within the profession.

The school of nursing closed in 1971, but the contributions and achievements of its graduates continue.  How frequently we hear the phrase, “she’s a Lincoln nurse.”

It was a deliberate decision to continue alumni activities every two years with nurses and friends of Lincoln, locally and nationally, so that we may carry on the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing tradition. 

This content was originally published here.

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