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date: 16 September 2019

Fernandis, Sarah A. Collins

Abstract and Keywords

Sarah Fernandis (1863–1951) was a civic leader and organizer of public health activities in Black communities. She founded the first black social settlement in the United States. In 1920, she became the first Black social worker employed in the City Venereal Disease Clinic of the Baltimore Health Department.

Keywords: Sarah Fernandis, public health, Black communities, black social settlement, War Camp Community Center, Black social worker

Sarah Fernandis was a civic leader and founder of the first black social settlement in the United States. She was born in Port Deposit, Maryland. Her undergraduate degree was from Hampton Institute in Virginia, and her master's degree in social work was from New York University. After three years of teaching in the Baltimore public schools, she began a lifelong career of organizing social welfare and public health activities in Black communities. Fernandis established the first American settlement for Blacks in the District of Columbia and a second settlement in Rhode Island. Between 1913 and 1917 she organized the Women's Cooperative Civic League and became its first president. The league worked for improved sanitation and health conditions in Black neighborhoods. During World War I she moved to Pennsylvania and organized a War Camp Community Center. In 1920 Fernandis became the first Black social worker employed in the City Venereal Disease Clinic of the Baltimore Health Department. In this position she continued to work for improved health conditions in the Black community. See Notable Maryland Women (1977), edited by Winifred G. Helmes.