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Priscilla Stanton

Illustration of Priscilla Stanton

1869 – 1963

Priscilla Stanton Todd Miller came from a working-class family and achieved a distinguished career in nursing. For 40 years, she served as a nurse in the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Health.

One of six children born to an African American father and an Irish immigrant mother, Priscilla Stanton grew up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Her parents lived at 2812 Vera Street for 47 years. Her father, Henry Stanton, was a laborer, and her mother, Margaret Crowe, had come from Dublin, Ireland to the United States just after the American Civil War.

Priscilla Stanton attended an elementary school in Minersville, then Pittsburgh Central High School. She received training as a professional nurse in Washington, D.C., at Freedmen’s Hospital (established in 1862, later part of Howard University). Freedmen’s Hospital had started its Training School for Nurses in November 1894. When Stanton graduated in 1898, she was the first African American woman from Western Pennsylvania to receive a degree in nursing.

In 1909, she was among the first group of nurses hired when the City of Pittsburgh established its professional nursing corps. She was appointed district nurse in the Tuberculosis Hospital, earning a salary of $900 per year plus expenses.

Picture of WIlliam H. Stanton

Stanton married Daniel E. Todd, a poultry salesman, in the latter half of 1898. The couple separated after about a decade of marriage and subsequently divorced. Stanton remarried but was widowed by 1930.

Priscilla Stanton pursued advanced training in obstetrics, surgical nursing and anesthesiology, working at Passavant and St. Francis Hospitals. She was a nurse in the city's Bureau of Infectious Diseases, serving during the influenza epidemic that followed World War I.

In 1929, she became the first African American nurse admitted to the advanced studies program at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia. She graduated from the Polyclinic Hospital School of Anesthesia in December of that same year. When she retired in 1949 after forty years of service to the City of Pittsburgh, she received a commendation from Mayor David L. Lawrence.

Stanton opened a savings account at Dollar Bank in June 1898.

Account signature of Priscilla Stanton