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Rush Archives Blog

Centennial of 19th Amendment: Women and Presbyterian Hospital, 1920 (Part 2)

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2020-08-18T08:00:00-05:00 in Anesthesia, Nursing, History, Archives | Comments

[Please see last week’s post for information about a panel discussion at Rush regarding the legacy of the Nineteenth Amendment, scheduled for August 18, 2020. Link to recorded panel presentation.]

The American women of 1920 had just lived through World War I and the Influenza pandemic of 1918, and were also heavily involved in the Progressive Movement.

This post will highlight the women of Presbyterian Hospital, the teaching hospital of Rush Medical College. Presbyterian Hospital was established in 1883, and opened a nursing school in 1903.

CAPTIONFrom the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing Yearbook, 1920.

During World War I, both of Rush’s predecessor hospitals, Presbyterian Hospital (Base Hospital 13) and St. Luke’s Hospital (Base Hospital 14) staffed base hospitals in France. Nursing staff from the hospitals went abroad to serve their country at these base hospitals or as part of the Red Cross, along with many nursing school alumni from the hospitals’ nursing schools. 

The first woman to serve on the medical staff of Presbyterian Hospital was anesthetist Isabella Herb, MD, who joined the staff in 1909. As noted in our previous blog post about the women of Rush, she also served on the faculty of Rush Medical College for many years. 

CAPTION: Drs. Haines and Herb are the only two women among the medical faculty of the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in the school's 1920 yearbook.

Presbyterian Hospital in 1920:

In 1920, three women were on staff of Presbyterian Hospital, including Dr. Herb, an Assistant in obstetrics/gynecology, and an Attending Roentgenologist (radiologist).

In 1920, there were no women on the House Staff or in leadership or administrative positions aside from those in charge of the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing.

In 1920, nursing school students provided the bulk of the day-to-day work on the hospital floors supervised by a relatively small group of “graduate,” or professional, nurses. 

As Presbyterian Hospital was the teaching hospital of Rush Medical College, Rush Medical College faculty (also Presbyterian Hospital staff) often served on the faculty of the nursing school. Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing students took their scientific courses from Rush Medical College faculty members.

CAPTION: The nurses of Presbyterian Hospital’s Base Hospital 13 (World War I). This group included women on the nursing staff of Presbyterian Hospital and recent nursing school graduates. From the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing Yearbook, 1920.

Although most of the women who served abroad during World War I were nurses, there were some women physicians who joined the cause, too. 

Anesthetist Frances Edith Haines, MD, was the only woman to serve on the medical staff of Presbyterian Hospital’s Base Hospital 13 in France during World War I. She was an Assistant in Surgery (Anesthetics) and was a contract surgeon in the U.S. Army. She served in this capacity from April 1918 to August 1919. Along with another woman from New York, Dr. Haines was the first woman hired by the United States as a contract surgeon during the war. 

CAPTION: Dr. Haines is featured in The History of Medicine and Surgery and Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago, 1922.

Recently, Dr. Haines was featured in the American Medical Women’s Association’s exhibit, “At Home and Over There: American Women Physicians in World War I.” You can find out more about Dr. Haines and her service in this exhibit handout: [link].

And for even more on Dr. Haines, check out Women Doctors in War by Judith Bellafaire and Mercedes Herrara Graf, 2009.

To learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections, please visit our website or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS.

Follow us on Twitter: @RushArchives

All documents and photographs belong to the records collections of Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill. Contact the archivist for permissions and full citations.

MORE in this blog series:

Centennial of 19th Amendment: Women and Rush Medical College, 1920 (Part 1) [August 13, 2020]

Centennial of 19th Amendment: Women and Presbyterian Hospital, 1920 (Part 2) [August 18, 2020]

Centennial of 19th Amendment: Women and St. Luke’s Hospital, 1920 (Part 3) [August 25, 2020]

Centennial of 19th Amendment: Women and St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing, 1920 (Part 4) [August 27, 2020]


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