Alberta Martin, 92, of Mt. Airy, an African-American nurse who overcame racial discrimination to attain a distinguished career in nursing, died of heart failure Jan. 24 at the home of a nephew, Albert Martin, in Collegeville.
During the 1960s she was a faculty member at Chestnut Hill Hospital’s School of Nursing.
After graduating from Mercy-Douglass Hospital School of Nursing in 1942, Ms. Martin tried to enlist in the Army Nurse Corps, but was turned down because there was a quota for black nurses, she wrote in autobiographical notes. She was commissioned a lieutenant in 1945 and was one of 20 black nurses who served in an integrated unit at Fort Meade, Md.
After her discharge, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.
Later, she became the first black head nurse at Philadelphia General Hospital, but when she applied to join the hospital’s nursing school faculty, she wrote that she was told “it was not the time to have a black instructor on the faculty.” She then joined the faculty of Methodist Hospital School of Nursing and became assistant director at the school.
In the late 1950s she resigned her faculty position and became a night supervisor at the hospital so that she could care for her mother during the day.
According to her autobiographical notes, she became the first black faculty member at Temple University’s College of Allied Health in 1969 and, as a professor of nursing, helped to develop the collegiate nursing curriculum.
Ms. Martin twice was the recipient of Temple’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. She traveled widely and represented Temple at an international nursing conference in Tokyo.
Jeanette Lear, of Mt. Airy, who had Ms. Martin as a teacher at Chestnut Hill Hospital’s School of Nursing, described her as an “excellent instructor.”
She was “professional, but quiet and very understanding,” Lear said.
Ms. Martin also was the author of numerous articles and book reviews in nursing journals.
After retiring in 1978, she was a volunteer teacher’s aide at the Emlen School and tutored at Lankenau-Germantown Motivation School.
Raised in North Carolina and North Philadelphia with eight siblings, she graduated from William Penn High School.
Ms. Martin is survived by nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held Feb. 3 at Zoar United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. – WF
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