Spratlen family’s support for UW nursing lives on

Thad and Lois Price Spratlen’s generosity continues to have an impact for University of Washington nursing students and the nursing profession, years after they died.

The couple were not only beloved UW professors, but benefactors who for decades underwrote student scholarships provided by the UW Alumni Association’s Multicultural Alumni Partnership. Now, the Spratlen family has generously transferred ownership of all rights of Lois’ book, “African American Registered Nurses in Seattle: The Struggle for Opportunity and Success,” to the Seattle-based Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization. (Thad, a professor of marketing in the Foster School of Business, died in 2021 and Lois, a professor of nursing, died in 2013.)

The Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization started in 1949 in honor of Mary Mahoney, the country’s first African American professionally trained nurse, who graduated from the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston in 1879. In 1949, Anne Foy Baker invited 12 registered nurses to discuss the possibility of establishing a professional organization for Black nurses. Its goals: to provide information and support to one another, and provide scholarship support to students pursuing education and careers in the field of nursing.

Lois Price Spratlen learned of the organization from one of its founders, Maxine Haynes, who moved to Seattle in 1972 to join the UW School of Nursing faculty. Spratlen soon became the organization’s president. In 1993, she founded a scholarship endowment for the organization, which has awarded scholarships to African American student nurses during its 74-year history. “Lois was acutely aware of the struggles and successes of the members of the organization that dated to the 1940s and 1950s and into the present days,” says former public health nurse Vivian Lee, ’58, ’59, one of the UW’s biggest supporters of programs supporting scholarship of African American students.

In 2000, Lois began interviewing members of the organization and wrote the first and only book on the history of African American registered nurses in Seattle. The book highlights the lives of 26 African American registered nurses, including 11 of its 13 founders. Many of these nurses are still living and are proud alumni of the UW School of Nursing.

Proceeds from book sales support the MMNPO Endowment. The book is available for purchase at uwmag.online/MMPNO.