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date: 21 January 2020

White, Eartha Mary Magdalene

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Eartha Mary Magdalene White (1876–1974) was a civic-minded Black businesswoman. She organized health and welfare services for the Black community in Jacksonville, Florida. She founded the Clara White Mission for the homeless and later founded the Eartha M. M. White Nursing Home.

Keywords: Eartha Mary Magdalene White, Black community, Jacksonville, homeless, welfare patients, Clara White Mission, relief centre

Eartha White, a civic-minded Black businesswoman, organized health and welfare services for the Black community in Jacksonville, Florida, the place of her birth. After studying at Madame Thurber's National Conservatory of Music in New York, she spent a year on tour with an opera company. White returned to Jacksonville to study and teach before initiating her lifelong community service activities, which were supported by profits from buying and selling small businesses and other real estate. Before World War I, White was involved in organizing and fund-raising activities for elderly people and children, and during the war she coordinated war camp services. In 1928 she founded the Clara White Mission for the homeless, named in honor of her mother. This mission, which served as a relief center for Black people during the Great Depression, expanded after World War II to include other services, such as care for dependent children and unwed mothers. While serving in the Women's National Defense Program during World War II, White donated a building and provided American Red Cross services to enlisted men, and in 1967 she established a 120-bed facility for welfare patients, the Eartha M. M. White Nursing Home. Among the honors she received for her public service contributions were the Better Life Award of the American Nursing Home Association and the Booker T. Washington Symbol of Service Award from the National Negro Business League. See Notable American Women: The Modern Period (1980), by B. Sicherman et al.