Maria (Mary) Nikolova – Ikonomova (1897 – 1985)

Maria Nikolova was one of the leading nurses in Bulgaria, president of the Society of Nurses and Editor of the Nespaper ‘Nurse’ in the 1930-es. Maria Nikolova was born in Jambol, Bulgaria. She studied in Sofia and in Plovdiv and after that in the American College in Samokov, which she finished in 1916. In the early 1920es she served as secretary and translator for the American nurses who reorganized the Sofia School for nurses. At that time she was attracted by the profession and decided to became a professional nurse. Maria Nikolova joined the course of the American School for Nurses in Istanbul (1925 – 1928) and after that she studied at Bedford School in London 1929 – 1930. Coming back to Sofia she became a lecturer at the School for Nurses and was appointed to be its Vice-Director of the school (1934-1935). In 1931 Maria Nikolova became Head Editor of the Newspaper ‘Nurse’ (1931 – 1933) and in 1933 she became President of the Bulgarian Society of Nurses. In 1935 Maria Nikolova she was appointed at the Bulgarian Public Health Ministry as the first Head Nurse – Inspector. This position was entirely new and Maria Nikolova had to arrange and to plan its activities in order to improve the nursing organization to rise its prestige as well to organize new schools for nursing. Only one school for nurses existed at that time – the school in Sofia. Maria Nikolova managed to organize three new schools. She visited the schools for nurses and other health and social institutions in Belgrade, Vienna, Athens, Istanbul and other centres in order to improve the nursing organization in Bulgaria. In 1936 Maria Nikolova took part in the first Balkan Congress for Child Protection in Athens. Later on she was head nurse in the Children preventorium in Tryavna. For the purpose of the nurses’ education she translated from English into Bulgarian the ‘History of Nursing’ by Isabel Stewart and Anne Austin which translation remained unpublished. She wrote also a ‘Brief History of Nurses in Bulgaria’ which also remained unpublished.


Popova, Kristina “The Joy of Service”. Biopolitics and Biographies Between New York, Sofia and Gorna Dzhumaja in the First Half of the 20th Century”, Advanced Academia Fellowship, 2011-2012, CAS Working Paper Series.