Born: March 7, 1878, Leon, Kansas. Died: May 8, 1960, El Dorado, Kansas.
Emily Morgan was born March 7, 1878, near Leon, Kansas, to Henry Clinton and Eudora Starrett Morgan. She was called the “angel of the Yukon” for her work during the 1925 diphtheria epidemic in Alaska.
In 1905 Morgan received a nursing degree from Ensworth Nurses Training School at Missouri Methodist Hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri. She served as a nurse during World War I and World War II, commissioned in the Army Reserve Nurses Corps, where she served in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, England, and Australia. She was a missionary nurse in Panama and New Zealand. After World War I, Morgan served as the first public health nurse in Wichita. While serving as a school nurse there, she contracted diphtheria, learning firsthand about the disease symptoms.
As a Red Cross nurse, she was appointed superintendent of Maynard Columbus Hospital in Nome, Alaska, in 1923. On January 21, 1925, Morgan was asked to make a house call to a sick child. Recognizing the symptoms of diphtheria, Morgan was the first to diagnose the epidemic, which claimed the child's life that day. The epidemic would threaten more than a thousand people. The town had but a small supply of antitoxin. Morgan bundled up and risked her life in sub-zero weather to inoculate as many of the townspeople as she could. Meanwhile dog teams were sent out in blizzard conditions to obtain more antitoxin for the town population. After the epidemic subsided, Morgan returned to Kansas to resume her career as a Red Cross nurse. Over the years she returned to Alaska to care for the sick.
In 1950 Morgan retired to El Dorado, Kansas, where she died May 8, 1960.
In 2013 Morgan was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame for her heroic efforts in 1925.
Entry: Morgan, Emily
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: March 2013
Date Modified: June 2013
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