The UIC College of Nursing’s Midwest Nursing History Research Center and the Equity and Inclusion Committee Present:

The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses who Helped Cure Tuberculosis
Presented by Maria Smilios


Monday, October 16th
2pm - 3pm CST

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New York City, 1929.  A sanatorium, a deadly disease, and a dire nurse shortage. So begins the remarkable true story of the Black nurses who helped cure one of the world’s deadliest plagues: tuberculosis.

Spanning the Great Depression and moving through World War II and beyond, this story follows the intrepid young women, the “Black Angels,” who, for twenty years, risked their lives working under dreadful conditions while caring for the city’s poorest—1,800 souls languishing in wards, waiting to die or become “guinea pigs” for experimental (often deadly) drugs. Yet despite their major role in desegregating the NYC hospital system—and regardless of their vital work in helping to find the cure for tuberculosis at Sea View—these nurses were completely erased from history.

About the Author:

Maria Smilios is a native of New York City, and holds a Masters of Arts from Boston University in Religion & Literature where she was a Henry Luce Scholar and a Presidential Scholar. Maria formerly worked as a development editor in the Biomedical Sciences editing books in lung diseases, pediatric and breast cancer, neurology, and ocular diseases. It was during this time when she read a line in a book that led her to discover the story of the Black Angels.

Through writing the book, she has become in involved in advocating for affordable and accessible TB drugs in TB heavy countries, working with and supporting organizations such as EndTB and Partners in Health.

In the past, she has written for The Guardian, American Nurse, Narratively, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, and The Forward among others.

The Black Angels is her first book.

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