Lillian Wald, revered in her lifetime, is little known today. But she was responsible for many of the social and health related programs we take for granted.
She came from a comfortable German-Jewish middle-class family in Rochester, New York. Lillian always wanted to do something more than marry a suitable man and raise a family. She found her calling when she met a nurse who attended her ill sister. She lied about her age to get into New York Hospital’s School of Nursing, where she rebelled against meaningless regulations and menial training. Her first visit to a tenement apartment on the Lower East Side opened her eyes to what would become her life’s work: to find practical solutions to the health needs of the immigrant tenement dwellers. From that point she lived among the people and nursed them in their own homes. From this beginning she founded the Visiting Nurse Service, the Henry Street Settlement, and the first city playground; she also fought to have nurses in schools and for school lunches, established camps in the country, and so much more, connecting with wealthy, like-minded people for funding. Kaplan has meticulously researched Wald’s life and achievements and sets them carefully in context, with many references to contemporary events and people. The book employs sidebars where necessary and is illustrated with archival photographs; all is presented in a conversational, greatly admiring tone.
A fascinating introduction to the “angel of Henry Street” for a new generation. (preface, acknowledgements, notes, references, suggested reading, index) (Biography. 12-adult)