Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Jessie Sleet Scales (1865-1956)


Jesse Sleet Scales (1865-1956) was a native of Canada.  She was born in Stratford, Ontario.  Scales graduated from Provident Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago in 1895. Upon graduation, she moved to New York hoping to work in the field of public health.  She was denied employment because of her race even though there was a shortage of professionally trained nurses.  Scales finally found nursing employment in 1900 with the Charity Organization Society.  She was hired to do home visiting with black patients suffering from tuberculosis and convince them to seek medical treatment.  She was given the position on a two month trial basis.  The scope of her work quickly expanded into areas such as obstetrics, chicken pox, heart disease, and cancer.  Scales maintained an astonishing case load during her first two months.  During that time she made 156 home visits to 41 families. Her pioneering work influenced other organizations to hire black public health nurses.  Scales was a trailblazer in providing culturally competent and culturally sensitive care.