Frances McHie Rains
Thiede's favorite story in the exhibit: Frances McHie applied to the University of Minnesota School of Nursing in 1929. Because she was Black, the school rejected her application. McHie brought the issue to the Minnesota Legislature, which voted that she should be enrolled in the school. Three years later, she graduated at the top of her class. "She also went on to break color barriers across the country," Thiede said. "She was not only a nurse, but obviously an activist. She was an educator." She was the first Black nursing supervisor at Minneapolis General Hospital and later worked in cities across the United States. She married Dr. Horace Rains in 1951 and settled down in California, where she continued to break barriers in medicine and work in community service.
Dr. Robert Sirelle Brown
In 1899, Brown moved to Minneapolis and became the first Black doctor in the history of the city. He had received his medical degree a few years before in Chicago at Bennett Medical College. He worked seven days a week in his downtown office. In addition to his practice, he was also an influential and important member of the city's Black community, and was elected president of the NAACP's Minneapolis chapter at one point. Brown's legacy lives on not only through his actions and successes, but also through the work of his son and grandson — both of whom were also doctors in Minneapolis.
Dr. Catherine Burnes
Burnes made history when she became the first woman to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a medical degree in 1886. She then moved to Hopkins, where she was the first physician in the city and worked for 30 years. Her most important role came in 1902 when a scarlet fever outbreak occurred in Hopkins. She decided the city needed to implement quarantine and safety regulations to stop the outbreak from spreading. Community members were wary of the decision, but it is believed that Burnes' efforts stopped the disease in its tracks and prevented greater casualties in the community.