Carrie Marie Sharp

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Title: Carrie Marie Sharp
Introduction:

Carrie Marie Sharp, an active member of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, called a meeting in Petersburg, Virginia on April 11, 1916, to organize the State Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, later the Old Dominion Graduate Nurses Association. Her career in nursing was devoted to her work as a school nurse in Petersburg. She is remembered with respect and affection by the women who were in the Girl Scout Troop she led.

"Miss Sharp is one of the best known school nurses in Virginia."

Adah Belle Samuels Thoms, The Pathfinders, 1929

Highlights:
  • Founder and first President of the State Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, later Old Dominion Graduate Nurses Association
  • President of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses
  • One of the first African American nurses enrolled in the American Red Cross
  • Lifelong advocate for children as a school nurse and Girl Scout leader in Petersburg, VA
Birth Date: 1881-11-01
Birthplace: Saltville, Virginia
Death Date: 1967-04-12
Death Place: Petersburg, Virginia
Education:
  • Morristown Normal College, Morristown, Tennessee, Graduated 1900
  • Freedmen's Hospital Training School, Washington, D.C., Graduated 1903
Nursing CV:
  • Central State Hospital, Petersburg Virginia, nursing staff, 1904-1914
  • School Nurse, Petersburg Public Schools, 1914-?
Biographical Text: Carrie Marie Sharp, a role model for African American nurses, was an active participant in professional nursing organizations and set a standard for generations to follow. In 1914, Sharp was elected president of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). She was also appointed to be a delegate to the 1915 International Council of Nurses meeting. However, the Council did not meet because of World War I.

She became a national organizer for the NACGN in 1915. Sharp assembled a small group of nurses in Petersburg for the purpose of forming an organization, the State Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. The organization elected her as the first president and she subsequently held the office of corresponding secretary and treasurer. Sharp served on an advisory committee with the eleven other presidents. In 1932 she was honored by being named "Treasurer for Life or as long as she was eligible." At her suggestion the name of the organization was changed in 1936 to the Old Dominion Graduate Nurses Association (ODGNA). At the annual meeting of the ODGNA on June 14, 1949, Sharp received a scroll inscribed with the following: "presented in recognition of your true leadership, devotion and faithfulness."

Sharp became an American Red Cross Nurse in September of 1918. Through the efforts of Adah Thoms and the NACGN, African American nurses were first enrolled in the American Red Cross in July of 1918. Therefore, Sharp can be said to be one of those who sought enrollment as soon as it was available.

Adah Thoms in her 1929 book, The Pathfinders, described Sharp as "one of he best known school nurses in Virginia" and states that she had been associated with the school system in Petersburg for many years. Sharp was committed to her work with children. Her family remembers her as "a strong matriarch for many brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews."

Anecdotal reports showed that she was a Girl Scout Leader and encouraged and enlisted a large number of African American girls in the troop that she led over a number of years. A building at Camp Holly Dell in Chesterfield County, Virginia, (once a camp for Girl Scouts) bore her name. According to the Commonwealth Council of the Girl Scouts, a "Carrie Sharp Unit" was among the five structures listed at the camp and was described as a large house that served as the camp directors building.
Citation:
“Carrie Marie Sharp,” VCU Libraries Gallery, accessed June 25, 2021, https://gallery.library.vcu.edu/items/show/77976.