Helen Sullivan Miller
Nurse leader who oversaw the integration of North Carolina Central University’s nursing program
Helen Sullivan Miller was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1917. She earned her nursing diploma from the University Hospital in Georgia and a Certification of Midwifery from the school of Midwifery at Tuskegee Institute. Miller went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Medical College of Virginia and later a Master of Science in Nursing from Yale University. Her breadth of nursing experience contributed greatly to her leadership style. During her career she worked as a staff nurse, as an administrative nurse in the United States Army Nurse Corps, a supervisory nurse in multiple public health departments in Georgia and New York, and as an associate professor.
Miller became the Chair of the North Carolina Central University’s Nursing Department and under her leadership, the school of nursing was successfully integrated in the 1950s. She is also recognized for growing the program from a certificate nursing curriculum into a four year baccalaureate program in 1969. She was the first Black nurse to serve as president of a district nursing association in North Carolina and the first nurse in North Carolina to receive the Mary Mahoney Award from the American Nurse Association. She is also the author of numerous articles and several books including The History of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. 1932–1967 and Mary Eliza Mahoney 1845–1926- America’s First Black Professional Nurse- A Historical Perspective.
We sourced information for the above biography from North Carolina Nursing History Appalachian State University and Legacy.
To learn more about inclusion in nursing and be part of the national discussion to address racism in nursing, check out and share the following resources:
Know Your History
- American Association for the History of Nursing to attend monthly webinars on topics of nursing history, view the calendar here.
- Nursing CLIO to engage with historians and scholars committed to deep work around historical accuracy in healthcare and nursing.
- NurseManifest to attend live zoom sessions with fellow nurses on nursing’s overdue reckoning on racism or to sign their pledge.
- Breaking Bias in Healthcare, an online course created by scientist Anu Gupta, to learn how bias is related to our brain’s neurobiology and can be mitigated with mindfulness.
Support & Advocate
- National Coalition for Ethnic Minority Nurse Association to stay engaged with topics relevant to nurses of color.