Jump to Navigation

Emily Morgan

Born: March 7, 1878, Leon, Kansas. Died: May 8, 1960, El Dorado, Kansas.

Emily MorganEmily 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.

She began training at the Enworth Hospital, later known as the Missouri Methodist Hospital in St. Joseph, in 1905, earning a nursing degree in 1908. She served as a nurse during World War I, commissioned in the Army Reserve Nurses Corps, where she served in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, England, and Australia. She worked as a missionary nurse in Panama and New Zealand, and as the first public health nurse in Wichita. While serving as a school nurse there, she contracted diphtheria, learning firsthand about the disease symptoms.

She went to Unalaska in 1923 and worked as a nurse and mission at the Jesse Lee Orphanage. In 1924 she was appointed superintendent of Maynard Columbus Hospital in Nome, Alaska. 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. She continued as a nurse in Alaska until 1947, retiring 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: January 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.