Lillian D. Wald

Lillian D. Wald’s dedication to serving poor and working-class communities as a nurse and organizer transformed health care in America. Wandering filthy tenements in search of a child’s sick mother, Wald realized that she couldn’t combat disease effectively in hospitals, she had to deal with the problems of public health in the community. She created the Henry Street Settlement House, where poor and working-class families could receive medical care and other social services. Wald funded the first school nurses in New York City, treating many children who had never had access to medical care before. She helped make health insurance available to workers. During the 1918 influenza outbreak, she was instrumental in setting up treatment centers throughout the country. And, pointing out that animals had more governmental protections than children in the US, she helped create the Federal Children’s Bureau, which addressed problems ranging from education to child labor laws.


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Lillian Wald in a nurse's uniform, 1893.
Courtesy of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
Date of Birth

Cincinnati, OH
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lillian D. Wald." (Viewed on May 14, 2021) <>.


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