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Taking Care “Read, Watch, Listen” Resources

Thank you for visiting Taking Care: The Black Angels of Sea View Hospital. Below is a selection of resources for further exploration of the history presented in the exhibition. 

Virginia Greene, RN, on duty with Ms. Sarah Smith and Ms. Mary Taylor

Virginia Greene, RN, on duty with Ms. Sarah Smith and Ms. Mary Taylor
1938 – 1942
Gift of Richard T. Greene, Jr., in memory of Virginia (Lea) Greene
Collection of Historic Richmond Town | 21.012.0001


Maria Smilios. The Black Angels: The Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis. New York: Random House, 2023.

Cynthia Connolly. Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008.

Darlene Clark Hine. Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890–1950. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Isabel Wilkerson. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. New York: Random House, 2010.

Sandra Opdycke. No One Was Turned Away: The Role of Public Hospitals in New York City since 1900. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

John Freeman Gill. “How Black Nurses Were Recruited to Staten Island to Fight a Deadly Disease.” New York Times. September 8, 2023. 

Shirley Zavin. “New York City Farm Colony – Seaview Hospital Historic District Designation Report.” New York: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1985.

Godias J. Drolet and Anthony M. Lowell. “A Half Century’s Progress Against Tuberculosis in New York City, 1900 – 1950.” New York: New York Tuberculosis and Health Association, 1952.


The Black Angels Book Launch

On September 23, 2023 the Staten Island Museum hosted a panel discussion and book signing celebrating the launch of The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Maria Smilios. The event took place at the College of Staten Island and featured a panel discussion including the author Maria Smilios, public historian Debbie-Ann Paige, Sea View nurse Virginia Allen, and moderator Gabriella Leone. Deacon Bernice Meadows Alleyne, the grandniece of the late Sea View nurse Missouria Meadows-Walker, opened the program with a rendition of Blessed Assurance, her great-aunt’s favorite hymn.

(Watch on YouTube)

Virginia Allen Oral History (b. 1931)

Virginia Allen was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Detroit. When she was 16, she moved to Staten Island to live with her aunt Edna Sutton-Ballard, who was a registered nurse at Sea View Hospital. Inspired by her aunt, Allen took a job as a nurse’s aide in the children’s hospital there while studying nursing at the Central School for Practical Nurses. She worked at Sea View from 1947 to 1957 and went on to work as a private duty nurse, a surgical nurse and later in labor relations with Local 1199 AFL-CIO. She has remained a community leader with numerous affiliations. Oral Historian Sarah Dziedzic interviewed Virginia Allen for the Staten Island Museum on 

(Watch on YouTube)

(Read the summary – PDF)



Curlene Jennings Bennett Oral History (b. 1936)

Curlene Jennings Bennett was born in Tennessee and grew up on Staten Island, attending P.S. 44 and St. Peter’s High School. She graduated from Bellevue School of Nursing in 1957 and worked as a nurse at Sea View Hospital from 1957 to 1958 before leaving to work as a public health nurse with a specialty in neonatal care. She lived for many years in Liberia where she worked to establish maternity clinics and combat infant mortality. She currently resides in Arizona. Oral Historian Sarah Dziedzic interviewed Curlene Jennings Bennett for the Staten Island Museum on 

(Read the summary – PDF)

(Listen to the full interview – SoundCloud)

Salaria Kea O’Reilly Oral History (1913 – 1990)

Born in Akron, Ohio, Salaria Kea O’Reilly moved  to New York to attend Harlem School for Nurses, where she led a protest that ended segregated lunch service at the school. She graduated in 1934, taking a job at Sea View Hospital. She later became the only Black nurse to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a group of American military and medical volunteers who served against Francisco Franco’s fascist rebels in the Spanish Civil War. Journalist John Gerassi interviewed Salaria Kea O’Reilly at her apartment in Akron, Ohio on. June 7, 1980. This interview is a part of his papers in the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University.

(Listen to the full interview – NYU Libraries)

StoryCorps Archive

Nurses, staff members and their families contributed StoryCorps interviews about Sea View Hospital at the Sandy Ground Historical Society in 2010. Participants included Virginia Allen, Thurston Groomes, Jane Lyons, Lois G. Bryan, Florence Shirley, Deborah McCarter, Edward Josey, Forest Ballard, Sylvia D’Alessandro, Zonease Porter, Leah Bennett, Patricia Wilson, Lucille and Theresa Herring. All of these interviews are available via the StoryCorps Archive with a free account.

(Go to the StoryCorps Archive)


Back and Song “Read, Watch, Listen” List

Assembled by artists Elissa Blount Moorehead and Bradford Young, this list contains the books, articles, videos and music that informed their work. (Download PDF)

Video installation on large screens in an industrial gallery

Elissa Blount Moorhead and Bradford Young, Back and Song (Installation Detail), LMCC The Arts Center at Governors Island, 2022.