Knox Historical Museum

History & Genealogy Center

Established 1987 in Barbourville, Kentucky
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Mary Eleanor Collins Browning was interviewed in 1974 by Union College student Meredith Smith. This was one of the many interviews conducted by students enrolled in the Appalachian Semester under the direction of William Sherman Oxendine.

In the interview, Mrs. Browning discusses her almost 25 years as a travelling nurse over Knox County but mostly concentrating on the county school system and outlining the highlights of the history of the Health Department between 1943 and 1968.

Locally, she was known and often feared as "The Shots Lady," who headed the vaccination program in the Knox County schools. As Charles Reed Mitchell, the longtime editor of the Knox Historical Museum's quarterly magazine, The Knox Countian, said in the Fall 2000 issue: "Her annual vaccinations occurred with the same dreaded regularity and inevitability as death and taxes."

One of the high points of her career took place in 1957 when she was honored by friends and community leaders in a "This is Your Life"celebration.

Mrs. Browning died on Aug. 23, 1987 and is buried in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where she was born on Dec. 11, 1899.

Attached are links to her 1974 interview:

Listen to the interview of Mary Browning - Part 1:

Listen to the interview of Mary Browning - Part 2

 Listen to the interview of Mary Browning - Part 3

Attached is Transcript of the Interview:

Interview of Mary Browning

Attached are photos involving Mrs. Browning:

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For more information about Mrs. Browning, see the following issues of The Knox Countian magazine:

  • 2000 Fall Edition: Vol. 12, No. 3: "Shots Were Only a Small Detail of a Public Health Nurse's Job" by Mary Browning
  • 2005 Fall Edition: Vol. 17, No. 3: "Mary Browning, Portraits of a Public Health Nurse"

These can be read at the Museum or ordered via the online Museum Store.


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