The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as women’s suffrage, and was ratified on August 18, 1920, ending almost a century of protest.
The legendary crusade for women's suffrage began in 1848 at a historic meeting in Seneca Falls, New York. Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Activists began raising public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. The lengthy battle culminated in 1920 when the country ratified the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the Experience Cortland staff will be releasing a blog series celebrating the achievements of Cortland County women throughout history. From an Army general to a women's rights advocate, to a charity executive and Television's first Better Crocker, "Iconic Cortland County Women: Celebrating the Centennial of the 19th Amendment" will showcase the area's rich women's history.
A Cortland County native who made great strides in nursing and medical research during her career in the United States Air Force is Sarah E. Beard.
Born in 1921 in Homer, New York, Beard graduated from Homer Academy and High School in 1938. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science from the State College for Teachers in Albany in 1942 and graduated from Peter Bent Brigham Nursing College five years later. Beard served as a clinical instructor and nursing supervisor at Keuka College before entering the United States Air Force in 1951. After enlisting she worked at the Langley Air Force Base Hospital, a flight nurse at Brookley Air Force Base and a flight nurse instructor at Gunter Annex. All of her accomplishments got her promoted to Captain in 1959.
During her incredible military career, Beard researched decompression sickness for the Air Force. She published several academic papers on human anatomy in relation to air travel, such as "Comparison of Helium and Nitrogen in Production of Bends in Simulating Orbital Fights" and "The Evolution of the Physician's Assistant: Brownian Movement or Coordinated Progress". Publications such as these helped her become the command nurse for the Air Force System Command. Beard’s career also saw her holding the position of special assistant in Health Manpower at the Pentagon.
Beard made numerous contributions to medical research in air travel and the U.S government, earning her awards and acknowledgements throughout her career. She received the United States Air Force Commendation Medal in 1968 and the Joint Service Commendation Medal in 1972. She was named the U.S. Air Force Nurse of the Year in 1966 and president of the Flight Nurse Section of the Aerospace Nurses Section in 1968-1970, and received a President's Citation in 1982.
Beard passed away in 2012 in Baldwinsville, New York at the age of 90.
Check back next week for the fourth blog of the series. I will be highlighting Cortland County Hall of Fame inductee and Director of the United Nations food distribution, Catherine Bertini.
1.“AF Honors Homer Woman for Aerospace Research.” Newspapers.com, The Post-Standard (Syracuse), 31 Oct. 1966, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31974943/sarah-e-beard-1972/. Viewed 2 July 2020.
2. “Col. Beard - Obituary .” Col. Sarah Elizabeth Beard, Syracuse Post Standard, May 2012, obits.syracuse.com/obituaries/syracuse/obituary.aspx?n=col-sarah-elizabeth-beard&pid=157788880.
3. “Col. Beard Serves 2nd Term as Flight Nurse.” Aerospace Medical News, Aerospace Medicine, July 1969, spacemedicineassociation.org/download/journal_archives/smb_archives/SMB%20President%20Austin%201969.pdf.
4. "6th Flight Nurse Meeting and Symposium." Aerospace Medical News, Aerospace Medicine, July 1969, https://spacemedicineassociation.org/download/journal_archives/smb_archives/Berry%20Panel%201969.pdf.
5. Wikipedia contributors. "Sarah E. Beard." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 April. 2020. Web. 2 July 2020.
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