I had the pleasure of being amongst a small audience of over 140 local Homemaker Association members to watch an hour long performance of “Mary Carson Breckinridge hosting a fundraiser dinner for the Frontier School of Nursing in the 1920’s”. This presentation is part of the Kentucky Chautauqua program, bringing historical figures to life, with this amazing woman being portrayed by Janet Scott.
Ms. Scott was also amazing to watch, in her nurse riding attire uniform. I was so engrossed in her presentation, that I felt as if I was sipping tea from a fancy tea cup and saucer in her parlor!
Mary Carson Breckinridge established the Frontier Nursing Service in Hyden, Kentucky in 1925, providing midwifery and general care to almost 10,000 people over an area of 700 square miles through the isolated mountain region of southeast Kentucky. On horseback. At the age of 44. Despite losing her first husband, then losing both of her children by a second marriage, followed by a divorce, she devoted her life to maternal and child welfare.
This is a little You Tube video I found depicting a few moments of that time on film.
A link to her autobiography is listed below. This book has several great reviews, including this one:
“For anyone interested in the Appalachian people, in nursing, or in a woman who had a dream and worked with other women to make that dream a reality, this is an excellent book.”―Ashville Citizen-Times
These words “…worked with other women to make that dream a reality…” from the quote above is one of the wonderful aspects of being a member of the Homemakers Association. This is an 80 year old national organization through your local Cooperative Extension Service, and we as a group, make a difference in the lives of others.
This description is from our State website “…Homemakers Association is a volunteer organization that works to improve the quality of life for families and communities through leadership development, volunteer service, and education”. I love being a part of this awesome group of women. I encourage you to check out a club near you.
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I found Mary Carson Breckinridge’s autobiography Wide Neighborhoods: A Story of the Frontier Nursing Service on Amazon. You might also be able to find it at your local library.
To the strong women who teach us and lead us through life, Thank You!