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Nurse, Suffragist, Social Reformer and Author

Lavinia Lloyd Dock was a nurse and social reformer born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1858. From a well-to-do family, she chose to train as a nurse and after serving as a visiting nurse among the poor she compiled the first manual of drugs for nurses, Materia Medica for Nurses (1890). She devoted her life to improving the health of the poor and the profession of nursing.

She gave up nursing around the age of 50, but dedicated her energies to other causes such as improved working conditions, birth control, and women’s right to vote. She was jailed briefly three times for taking part in suffrage demonstrations. Some say her courageous stand for women's’ suffrage and women's’ rights was her greatest contribution to nursing. She felt if nursing was going to be the profession that the early leaders envisioned, nurses would need the power and respect that only gender equality could offer. She is quoted in the NLN publication, “Open Mind” (1996), “We owe the existence of our profession to the women's’ movement. We owe it all that we are, all that we have of opportunity and advancement.”

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