Susie King Taylor: First African American Army Nurse in the Civil War
2020 has been named the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization. To celebrate, every month we're highlighting a nurse who has helped change the world.
Susie King Taylor was born into slavery in Georgia in 1848. She was educated in secret, and escaped with her uncle in 1862. They found shelter on a Union-occupied island off the coast of Georgia. She worked as a nurse and laundress for the 33rd United States Colored Infantry and, thanks to her education as child, began teaching the Union soldiers. She became the first black teacher to openly educate African Americans in Georgia. During her time as a nurse, she met and worked alongside Clara Barton.
After the war, Taylor and her husband, Edward King, moved to Savanah, where she continued to teach. After his death, she found employment as a domestic servant for a wealthy family and moved with them to Boston. She remarried and served in the Women’s Relief Corps, which she became president of in 1893.
Taylor published her memoir, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers, in 1902. She was the first and only African American woman to publish an account of her experiences during the Civil War.