Mary Eliza Mahoney (b. April 16, 1845 – d. January 4, 1926) was the first African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879.
In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. The NACGN eventually merged with the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1951. She is commemorated by the biennial Mary Mahoney Award of the ANA for significant contributions in advancing equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups.
Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Mary Eliza Mahoney worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children (now the Dimock Community Health Center) for fifteen years before being accepted into its nursing school, which was America’s first.
The Hospital was founded by women doctors in 1862. It started its nurse training program in 1872 with forty two students, only four actually graduated; including Linda Richards, who graduated as the first formally educated nurse in the United States.
After gaining her nursing diploma in 1905, Mahoney worked for many years as a private care nurse, earning a distinguished reputation.