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Diversity Resources: Women's History Month

This resource guide is sponsored by the Lander University Diversity Advisory Council.

National Women's History Alliance 2022 Women's History Month: Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope

Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope LogoThe 2022 Women’s History theme, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.

Women as healers harken back to ancient times. This year, in particular, we are reminded of the importance of healers and caregivers who are helping to promote and sustain hope for the future. The NWHA encourages communities throughout the country to honor local women who bring and have historically brought these priceless gifts to their families, workplaces, and neighborhoods, sometimes at great sacrifice. 

Women have long advocated for compassionate treatments and new directions in public health and in women’s mental and physical health. Women have also historically led the way in mending divisions, healing wounds, and finding peaceful solutions. This timeless work, in so many ways and in addition to so many other tasks, has helped countless individuals in our communities recover and follow their dreams.

The 2022 theme proudly honors those who, in both public and private life, provide healing and promote hope for the betterment of all.

(Selections from https://nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/2022-theme/

Instead of selecting national honorees, the National Women's History Alliance encouraged groups throughout the country to use their theme, Women Promoting Healing, Promoting Hope, to recognize and honor women in their own communities. For this resource guide, we are including pioneer women in the field of health care either from South Carolina or who were major contributors to healthcare within South Carolina.

Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans

Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans"In 1897, Dr. Evans became the first African-American woman licensed as a physician in South Carolina. She opened Columbia's first hospital for African-Americans and fought to provide free medical exams for public schoolchildren. She also had a thriving independent practice where she cared for patients of all classes and color. Six children were abandoned at her practice and she raised them all, along with five children orphaned by relatives who had died." (Special Women in SC History, SCIWAY) Image from Changing the Face of Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Evans using these links and resources:

Dr. Jane Bruce Guignard

Dr. Jane Bruce Guignard sitting by a desk on the telephone"Obstetrics and pediatrics became the cornerstone of Guignard’s fifty-year medical career. ... After witnessing the “shockingly unsanitary and inconvenient surroundings” that accompanied the delivery of poor babies, Guignard established a small nursing home of her own in the 1920s. ... Guignard became an instrumental force in the development of adequate obstetrical facilities at Columbia Hospital. She also established a training program for black midwives. During her career, she delivered more than one thousand babies in Richland County. Guignard devoted much of her career to obstetrics, but her general practice also earned her a reputation as a doctor of the people. She looked to a patient’s environment, working conditions, emotional state, and medical and family history as important factors in health care. Her marriage of professional expertise with personal history earned her the respect of her patients and colleagues." (South Carolina Encyclopedia) Image from Knowitall.org.

Learn more about Dr. Guignard using these links and resources: 

More South Carolina Pioneer Women to Explore

South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina has a rich history of women on the frontlines in health care. Take some time to explore these names within the resources listed on this page and beyond.

 

  • Nina Littlejohn: Created the John-Nina Hospital in 1913 in Spartanburg, South Carolina for African Americans to have access to healthcare.
  • Esther Hill Hawks: Both an educator and physician with great impacts within the former enslaved communities on the coast of South Carolina during and after the Civil War.
  • Sarah Campbell Allan: Pioneer physician in South Carolina who worked at the South Carolina Hospital for the Insane in the late 1800s.
  • Anna DeCosta Banks: Nursing pioneer with a long inspiring career at the Hospital and Training School for Nurses in Charleston. 

Dr. Hilla Sheriff

Dr. Hilla Sheriff standing beside a vehicle"The 1930s and 40s were bleak years for rural South Carolina, especially in the mill towns of the Upstate, where each year people died by the thousands from malnourishment and the lack of basic medical care. During her long career, this Spartanburg physician fought valiantly against everything from pellagra to child abuse. Our state led the nation in maternal and infant mortality, and perhaps her most important accomplishment was to establish America's first family planning clinic for a county health department. She was also our state's first female health officer at a time when there were only 40 female doctors in all of South Carolina." (Special Women in SC History, SCIWAY) Image from A Gospel of Health: Hilla Sheriff's Crusade Against Malnutrition in South Carolina.

Learn more about Dr. Sheriff using these links and resources:

Dr. Lucy Hughes Brown

Lucy Hughes Brown photograph"After practicing medicine in North Carolina for two years, Brown moved to Charleston and became the first black female physician to practice in South Carolina. With several other African Americans, she contributed to the establishment of the Cannon Hospital and Training School for Nurses in 1897, which was later renamed McClennan-Banks Hospital. At this hospital Brown headed the department of nursing training. She presented lectures and stressed that practical experience was preferable to textbook knowledge, although she advised students to prepare with a combination of both classroom and practical knowledge. During a two-year program, students spent the first year attending lectures and gaining practical skills in the hospital. The second year was devoted to practical hospital work and assisting cases in the adjacent communities. The first class of nurses benefiting from Brown’s guidance graduated in 1898." (South Carolina Encyclopedia) Image from Waring Historical Library, MUSC, Charleston.

Learn more about Dr. Brown using these links and resources:

Resources to Explore