Ellen N. La Motte: The Making of a Nurse, Writer, and Activist

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This article examines the early career of Ellen N. La Motte (1873-1961) to trace how her training at the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses and years spent as a tuberculosis nurse in Baltimore shaped her perception of tuberculosis prevention and women’s suffrage. Although studies of tuberculosis have frequently alluded to her work, no sustained biocritical discussion of her development as a nurse and scholar exists. Between 1902, when she graduated from nursing school, and 1914, the start of the Great War, La Motte published a textbook and dozens of articles in journals devoted to nursing and social reform and delivered many speeches at local, regional, and national meetings. In addition, as her reputation as an expert in the field of tuberculosis nursing grew, her advocacy for the vote for women increased, and she used her writing and speaking skills on behalf of the suffrage cause. This article assesses how the skills La Motte acquired during these years helped mold her into a successful and respected nurse, writer, and activist.

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