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Adah Belle Samuels Thoms (January 12, 1870 '' February 21, 1943) was an African American nurse who cofounded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, was acting director of the Lincoln School for Nurses (New York), and fought for African Americans to serve as army nurses during World War I. She was among the first nurses inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame when it was established in 1976.
Thoms was born Adah Belle Samuels in Richmond, Virginia, to Harry and Melvina Samuels.
As a young woman, she married briefly, and kept the surname Thoms. She taught in Virginia, and then in the 1890s, she went to New York, to study elocution and speech at Cooper Union. She then studied nursing at the Women's Infirmary and School of Therapeutic Massage, graduating in 1900 as the only black woman in a class of thirty.
Thoms continued her education at the Lincoln Hospital and Home School of Nursing, a school for black women, graduating in 1905. Although she served as acting director between 1906 and 1923, racist policies prevented her receiving the official title of director.
Thoms became involved in international efforts to advance the nursing profession, attending the International Council of Nurses in 1912.
In the first part of the twentieth century, Thoms worked with Martha Franklin and Mary Mahoney to organize the National Association of Colored Nurses. The organizing meeting was held at Lincoln...