Archives & Collections
The Bates Center is a proud steward of one of the largest collections of documents and images in the country focusing on the history of nursing and healthcare.
We support the work of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students engaged in research projects as well as photo editors, genealogists, members of nursing alumni groups, and all those interested in nursing history.
We house archival and manuscript materials. Our collections are great building blocks for research into nursing and healthcare. Some popular topics include:
• global nursing
• nursing education
• nursing & public policy
• nursing ethics
• visiting nurse services
|• care of the critically ill|
|• epidemics & war||
• nursing leadership
|• diversity in nursing||
• nursing’s work and identity
Check out our Finding Aids for additional topics or contact us to learn more.
Our library contains more than 3,500 books, monographs and other printed materials ranging from contemporary to rare both within our Reading Room and at University of Pennsylvania Records Center (URC)*.
These titles do not circulate but patrons are welcome to examine them in the Center’s reading room during normal hours of operation. The Center’s book and manuscript holdings may be searched by author, title, or subject via the University of Pennsylvania’s on-line catalog, FRANKLIN.
* The Center acknowledges University Archives, and its Director, Mark Frazier Lloyd, for in-kind contributions of storage support.
General Access Policies
- To schedule an appointment, please check out Visiting the Center.
- The Center strives to open as much of its collection to research use as possible. Restrictions may apply to unprocessed and restricted holdings.
- Portions of collections may be restricted in order to comply with laws and regulations governing privacy or confidentiality or to honor requests of individual donors. Researchers will be informed of any restrictions governing the use of material they request.
- All researchers prior to their visit must submit a researcher application. A valid form of photo identification must accompany the signed application in order to access the archives for the first time in a calendar year.
- Additional forms before viewing the collections may include “Restricted Access” and “Camera Policy”. If you are interested in accessing any restricted collection, please email email@example.com for more information.
The Mercy-Douglass Hospital School of Nursing, a product of the merger of two institutions, Mercy Hospital and Fredrick Douglass Hospital, was an African-American hospital and the first training school for black nurses in in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It operated from 1895-1960.
The school of nursing records are predominately student files and photographs that document the black experience in nursing. This series of images from Fredrick Douglass Hospital are pre-1920 student records, including applications, letters from potential students and references, transcripts, and photographs. Students applying to the school were expected to be well-educated and of good moral standing, neat, and pleasing in appearance, and both obedient yet assertive. By drawing on these many values, young black women were able to exercise their agency.
These sources document the demographics of nursing students, including age, educational and employment background, location, and religion. The records also include performance evaluations, employment after graduation, the subjects required for training, and the qualities associated with a successful nurse.