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Nancy Bowlin

Educator and public health nurse Nancy Bowlin was born on August 8, 1927 in Harlem, New York to Harriet Seraphina Worghs and Phillip Worrell Douglas. Her parents met in Harlem in 1924. Bowlin attended P.S. #10, St. Thomas the Apostle Elementary School, Asbury Park High School and graduated from George Washington High School in 1945. She received her associate’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1947 and graduated from Bellevue School of Nursing in 1952 as a registered nurse. Bowlin went on to earn her B.S. degree in home economics and M.S. degree in health education from Lehman College in the 1970s.

Bowlin worked as a nurse at Bellevue Hospital from 1952 to 1954. As a state public health nurse for the State of New York in Harlem from 1954 to 1958, Bowlin assessed family health and taught neo-natal care. Later, she was appointed Supervisor of Nursing Education for the federally funded Central School for Practical Nursing. In 1969, Bowlin joined the New York City Board of Education, where she taught home economics at P.S. #142 and later taught bio medical sciences, nursing and biology at the high school level until 1984.

Bowlin is a member of the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP and the Schomburg Center for Black Research. She lives in Bronx, New York.

Bowlin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 17, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.144

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/17/2007

Last Name

Bowlin

Schools

Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing

Brooklyn College

George Washington High School

St. Thomas the Apostle School

Asbury Park High School

Lehman College

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Nancy

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BOW06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

If You Don't Use It, You Lose It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/8/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Educator and public health nurse Nancy Bowlin (1927 - ) worked as a nurse at Bellevue Hospital, and as a public health nurse for the State of New York. Bowlin was also appointed Supervisor of Nursing Education for the Central School for Practical Nursing.

Employment

Bellevue Hospital

Harlem Hospital

New York City Board of Education

Central School for Practical Nurses

New York City Department of Health

Knickerbocker Hospital

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nancy Bowlin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nancy Bowlin lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nancy Bowlin describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nancy Bowlin talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nancy Bowlin describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nancy Bowlin describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nancy Bowlin describes her father's ancestry and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nancy Bowlin talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her maternal aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Nancy Bowlin describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Nancy Bowlin remembers the Harlem community in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nancy Bowlin describes her chores and pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nancy Bowlin describes her religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nancy Bowlin remembers the Harlem Library in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her grade school experiences in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her grade school experiences in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nancy Bowlin remembers moving to her father's home in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nancy Bowlin remembers George Washington High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nancy Bowlin recalls living with her father in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Nancy Bowlin describes the drug culture in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her teenage pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nancy Bowlin recalls the public speakers in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nancy Bowlin remembers Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nancy Bowlin recalls her admission to the Bellevue Schools of Nursing in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her first patient at the Bellevue Schools of Nursing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nancy Bowlin talks about her understanding of death

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nancy Bowlin remembers working at New York City's Bellevue Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nancy Bowlin remembers how she met her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nancy Bowlin describes her early nursing career in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Nancy Bowlin remembers becoming a public health nurse

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Nancy Bowlin talks about the prevalence of tuberculosis

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Nancy Bowlin describes her duties at the New York City Department of Health

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her career at the New York City Department of Health

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nancy Bowlin describes her public health casework

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nancy Bowlin talks about the changes in psychiatric care

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nancy Bowlin talks about the black community's public health concerns

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nancy Bowlin talks about the changes in hygiene and diet in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nancy Bowlin recalls teaching at the Central School for Practical Nurses in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nancy Bowlin recalls teaching in New York City's public schools

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Nancy Bowlin remembers her experiences in Senegal

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Nancy Bowlin describes the public health conditions in Senegal

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Nancy Bowlin talks about her interest in travelling

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nancy Bowlin describes her graduate studies in health education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nancy Bowlin talks about her organizational involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nancy Bowlin describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nancy Bowlin reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nancy Bowlin reflects upon her philosophy of life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nancy Bowlin talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nancy Bowlin talks about her health

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Nancy Bowlin describes her family's legacy in healthcare

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Nancy Bowlin describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Nancy Bowlin narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Nancy Bowlin remembers her first patient at the Bellevue Schools of Nursing
Nancy Bowlin talks about the changes in psychiatric care
Transcript
So you were admitted to the school in '49 [1949], and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, I was--right and I graduated in 1952.$$Now, now what was the hardest part of nursing school for you?$$Nothing was hard.$$Okay.$$You know what my average was which I'm gonna show you when I took my exam? Ninety-two point something. That's when you take all your tests and average them all out. Nothing was hard.$$So they didn't, they didn't grade you on the C system, I guess.$$No.$$Okay.$$No.$$Were, were you the first African American student at Bellevue [Bellevue Schools of Nursing; Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, New York, New York]?$$No, no, there was eleven, eleven of us.$$Okay.$$Eleven of us in my class.$$Okay. How long had it been since they, I mean, started letting black people go there?$$The ones that they had before were light, you know. But we were obvious, and then after we made such a whatever, we set the road. We--the--for--if you saw the class of '69 [1969], you say, woo, things have changed. And it closed down in 1969, the three year program.$$But there was no tough time for you in--that you--where you can say, well maybe I don't wanna be a nurse or is this--$$Oh, yes. Oh, yes. The first time, the first time. There was this woman. She was mugged and I had to t- and her face--I've never seen anyone with face so mutilated and puffed up and blood and whatever and dirt. And she was my patient to take, my first patient, first. And we put four hours on the ward. This was my first patient, first. And I looked at this lady, I felt so bad for her, oh, and I had to touch her, oh, no way. I did not want--. I went in the utility room and I started to cry. I says, "I can't do this. I cannot do this." And my classmate says, "Oh, yes you can, yes you can, yes you can." So, I got the basin, took my time. I spent four hours on her face alone. That's how messed up she was. Delicately I washed her face until she got all the blood out of her nose and whatever and so forth. And she finally said, "Thank you very much." I will never forget that. That was my first patien- that was the time when I did not--I--that was the one and only time.$$Okay.$$Was my first patient.$$That's quite a story.$Were there any disease problems that were particular to well-to-do people?$$Oh, I have to tell you about the well-to-do. We were--with Bellevue [Bellevue Hospital; Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, New York] being, being the psychiatric, and that's public, so therefore they wanted to expose us to the private quote unquote high- higher up psychiatric pavilion. I think it's New York Hospital [NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, New York], I can't remember. But, anyway, we went to the private, I went to the private where the nurse, you don't read the patient's chart because these are quote CEOs and--. They go to work, they--many of them at that time would go to work during the day but they come--came back to the hospital for psychiatric care, and they were well-to-do. The dishes were out of s- oh, the, the beautiful china and whatever. And as I said, we couldn't, we couldn't know the person's name, nor could we read the charts, but this was how they were getting psychiatric care as opposed to the public Bellevue psychiatric care.$$So you're saying that many CEOs that people--$$Yeah.$$--thought were crazy, actually--$$Yeah.$$--had some kind of mental problem.$$Right, had mental conditions and would--being medicated, but they would go back--they would still go to work, but they would come back and stay in the institution, but it was like staying in a hotel.$$Now what access did poor people have to psychiatric care?$$You go to Bellevue.$$And how were the poor treated?$$And don't forget we had psychiatric institutions. We just recently got rid of all our psychiatric institutions. We have no psychiatric institutions. We used to have several psychiatric institutions up here in the Bronx [New York], not only for the children, but for the adults. We have none. That's why you see them out on the street.$$Yeah, that's, that's something that occurred fairly recently in the major cities--$$Exactly.$$--in the--$$We have no psych-$$--early '90s [1990s]. That's--$$Yeah, we have no pyschia- they got rid of all of that.$$Now, now there's I know David Satcher [HistoryMaker Dr. David Satcher] when he was secretary of health for the Clinton [President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] administration one of the, the themes of his speeches was always health, mental health.$$Yeah.$$And how important it was--$$It was--$$--for people to--for everyone--$$Yes.$$You know, and we say, some people act crazy, or whatever, but, but he said it was important for everyone to--$$It was--it's a--$$--monitor their mental health.$$Yes. Yes. But we don't have it anymore. So you see people out here on the street and whatever, in the shelters, and, and it- it's sad. It is sad. It is very sad. We don't have it.$$And there's nothing--$$And you--why do you, why do you have such problems in school? You have children who have mental problems. Where they gonna go? The parents, what can they do? They don't have the money.