Healing with Heart

Nurses' Station, Darrick Claiborne

National Nurses Week 
May 6 - 12 

In the fall of 1918, the flu pandemic that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide was also impacting Virginia. A segregated society prevented Black doctors and nurses from treating patients.  However, with many white doctors and nurses being sent abroad to serve in WWI, volunteers were needed,  particularly nurses, to help care for the endless flow of sick patients at John Marshall High School, which had been converted into an emergency hospital.  Black patients were relegated to the dark, damp, and windowless basement of the building and didn't receive the same level of care as the white patients. As the need for volunteers, including Black nurses, increased,  Maggie L. Walker, a member of the American Red Cross and several other Black women arrived at the school. Not only did they offer their services, they fought to have the Black patients moved from the basement. As part of our Black History at Home program, watch The Future of America's Past documentary in which Field Studios Films addresses the 1918 flu pandemic and Maggie Walker's critical role for African American patients in Richmond.  

National Nurses Day is celebrated annually to raise awareness of the important role of nurses and marks the beginning of National Nurses Week.

Richmond based Sisters of the Yam, African American Quilters Guild and Kuumba Quilt Guild are doing what they can to support nurses. The two groups combined have made and donated more than 200 masks to VCU Health Systems. Our very own Mary Lauderdale is a member of Sisters of the Yam! 

Make a Face Mask 

Need a face mask of your own? Here's a simple tutorial for making one as well as a good way to make use of mismatched socks! 


Adah Belle Samuels Thoms, Healing Hands


Adah Belle Samuel Thoms was born in Richmond, VA, January 12, 1870. She started her career as a school teacher in Richmond then went on to become a nurse. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) along with Martha Minerva Franklin and Mary Mahoney and served as the organization's president from 1916-1923. Their goals included securing full integration of Black women nurses into the nursing profession, employment opportunities, and equal pay. Thoms also played a critical role in lobbying the American Red Cross to allow Black nurses to enroll during WWI, in order to lead to service in the US Army Nurse Corps. Adah Belle Samuel Thoms was inducted into the American Nursing Hall of Fame in 1976. 

Stay Tuned

We know things are tough right now but there's hope. When we see children spending their allowance to buy food for nurses, we know there's hope. When we see people make grocery and pharmacy deliveries for their neighbors, we know there's hope. Stay strong, stay encouraged, and remain hopeful. Take a listen and enjoy!

Now more than ever...

For a small, independent nonprofit like BHMVA, the pandemic crisis is truly a challenge. 
In addition to maintaining our operations, we are undertaking enhanced sanitation precautions to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff. We will reopen when it is safe to do so and in the meantime we are installing sanitizer stations and shield guards as well as purchasing a supply of items including masks, gloves, disinfectants, and wipes. 

We humbly ask for your support to ensure our survival and future growth. Your donation of $250, $100, or $10 is welcome and helpful.  On line donations can be made here - support BHMVA  or you can mail a check to our address below.  Thank you.

Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia
122 W. Leigh St
Richmond, VA 23220

Preserving stories that inspire.