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Mercy-Douglass Hospital School of Nursing

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 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.