Skip to main content

Scales, Jessie Sleet (fl. 1900)

Scales, Jessie Sleet (fl. 1900)

First African-American public health nurse. Flourished around 1900; born in Stratford, Ontario, Canada; graduated from the Provident Hospital School of Nursing, Chicago, 1895.

Several historians have reached the conclusion that Jessie Sleet Scales was the first black public health nurse active in the United States. A native of southwestern Ontario—which in pre-Civil War times had been a prime terminus for the Underground Railroad—Scales graduated from Chicago's Provident Hospital School of Nursing in 1895, hoping to work in the field of public health. Moving to New York, she was rejected for many jobs simply because of her race, despite the fact that institutionally trained nurses were in short supply at the time. Scales was finally employed in 1900 by the Charity Organization Society to make home visits to black tuberculosis sufferers and convince them to seek medical treatment. Given the post on a two-month trial basis, she did so well that her reports on her work were submitted by her supervisor for publication in the American Journal of Nursing, and the editor of the Journal remarked on her capabilities and altruism. Scales continued her work with the society for nine years.


Carnegie, Mary Elizabeth. The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing 1854–1984. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott, 1986.

James M. Manheim , freelance writer and editor, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Scales, Jessie Sleet (fl. 1900)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . 17 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Scales, Jessie Sleet (fl. 1900)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . (February 17, 2019).

"Scales, Jessie Sleet (fl. 1900)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.