Mary Ezra Mahoney was the first African-American woman to complete nursing training and become a registered nurse.
Mahoney worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children before she was accepted to the hospital's nursing school at the age of 33. Out of 42 candidates, only four graduated; Mahoney was one of those four.
Upon graduating, Mahoney registered with the Nurses' Directory at the Massachusetts Medical Library and went into private practice in New England. Because of her successes, the nursing school she attended loosened their policies against admitting black nursing candidates.
In the face of discrimination against black nurses, Mahoney advocated for the rights of all black nurses and went on to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908.