Lillian Wald: America’s Social and Healthcare Reformer

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Lillian Wald: America’s Social and Healthcare Reformer


T his short biography profiles the life of Lillian Wald, who some historians call “one of the most influential but least known people of the early 20th century.” Disenchanted with the nursing profession, she did something almost unheard of at the time. With her classmate, she moved into New York City’s Lower East Side to live alongside the impoverished immigration population she would serve) She started what would become one of the nation’s first “settlements.” Ultimately, it would grow into what today is the Henry Street Settlement and Visiting Nurses Service, birthplace of the antecedent to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

The book examines key issues of the early 20th century-- immigration, women’s suffrage, labor movement, racial integration, and children’s work exploitation, many of which echo today’s headlines. Taking an intimate look at one of America’s first social reformers, this book recounts Wald’s unlikely journey as a nursing student to a reformer who would influence US Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and FDR.