Catherine “Carrie” Dell Nelson was born in 1858 in Etna, Ohio and later moved to Columbus where she resided until her death at age 78. Nelson Black was a social humanitarian for the under-privileged and dedicated her life to the prevention and control of tuberculosis and cancer. She founded numerous organizations to help those causes, which includes the Columbus Tuberculosis Society, Columbus Cancer Clinic, Ohio Public Health Association, Nightingale Cottage, Columbus Open Air School and the Ohio Association for Mother’s Day.
She received her education from Wesleyan College in Cincinnati. She later studied health care and medicine at clinics in Boston, New York and Chicago. She then returned to Columbus to carry out her work. As the wife of Judge Samuel L. Black, mayor of Columbus (1897-1898), she was the First Lady of Columbus. Nelson Black changed the public health care systems in Columbus and the way health care services for the under-privileged were offered throughout Ohio, which served as models for other cities in the US. She founded the first nursing care system in Ohio, Instructive District Nursing Association (IDNA) of Columbus, which is now LifeCare Alliance. At IDNA, tuberculosis was a common disease of the under-privileged and Nelson Black established The Ohio Society for the Prevention and Cure of Tuberculosis. From this, she established the Open Air School and Nightingale Cottage which were dedicated to prevention for those with tuberculosis.
In addition, Nelson Black formed The Columbus Cancer Clinic in her home to help the under-privileged with free cancer screenings and medical assistance. Nelson Black was a health crusader and gave her life to public service as a social humanitarian.