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Trained as a registered nurse and a public health nurse by the Red Cross in Wichita, Kan., Emily Morgan was responsible for administering the serum that was brought to Nome via the famous Iditarod Serum Run for the diphtheria epidemic of 1925. She was named the “Angel of the Yukon” for saving the Natives of Nome from the “black death” during that epidemic, according to Wichita newspapers. Her work stopped the spread of that deadly disease to other villages in the Arctic during one of the greatest health crises Alaska has ever seen.
During the First World War, Morgan had a commission in the Army Reserve Nurses Corps. She served for three years in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, England and Australia. While working back home as the first public health nurse in Wichita, she asked for missionary work, which brought her to Alaska for 15 years: the Jesse Lee Orphanage in Unalaska, the Maynard-Columbia Hospital in Nome and the hospital in Barrow. Morgan performed her job in Nome under the harshest of conditions – an epidemic in a rural Alaska village, a race to bring serum by dogsled delayed by blizzards, rising numbers of diphtheria cases and a serum that then had to be safely unfrozen before it could be used with patients.
While on furlough in Kansas in 1928, Morgan was called back to Nome to help fight the smallpox epidemic in northern Alaska. In 1935 she was in charge of the Barrow Hospital when the bodies of Wiley Post and Will Rogers were brought in from their plane crash on August 15. Post, a famous American aviator, and Rogers, celebrated as “America’s favorite Hollywood actor” just the year before, were on a vacation to Alaska and crashed just after takeoff near Point Barrow.
Morgan died in Kansas in 1960 at the age of 82.View Extended Bio