The Barbara Bates Center will resume in-person research visits as of September 15, 2021 with updated research access policies to comply with the University’s policy on COVID-19. Please contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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.
In 2018 the Barbara Bates Center for The Study of The History of Nursing formally unveiled the newly named Joan E. Lynaugh Archives and Special Collections. This named archive honors the founder of the Barbara Bates Center and celebrates the Center’s extensive (and growing) collections of on- and- off site archives and books. The Lynaugh archive joins the on-site Lillian Sholtis Brunner Archives and the Ellen D. Baer Reading Room.
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 the history of nursing and healthcare.
We house archival and manuscript materials. Our collections are building blocks for research into nursing and healthcare. Some popular topics include:
Curated by Center staff, subject guides describe archival resources on a particular topic, bringing together information across individual collections within the archive. These guides are intended to provide a starting point for researchers. Please view our finding aids for full listings.
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 online catalog, FRANKLIN.
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 and confidentiality or to honor requests of individual donors. Researchers will be informed of any restrictions governing the use of materials they request.
All researchers must submit a researcher application prior to their visit. 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 to review and complete before viewing collections may include “Restricted Access” and “Camera Policy.” If you are interested in accessing a 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 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.
The Visiting Nurse Society of Philadelphia documented their activities from 1918 thru 1919 via a newspaper clipping scrapbook. These clipping focus on fundraising efforts during the war for their organization, the new services offered, and their actions during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. The clippings available here, curated by the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, relate to the 1918 influenza pandemic, highlight the city of Philadelphia’s actions, and the bravery of the society’s nurses during this terrifying outbreak.
The Visiting Nurse Society of Philadelphia was founded in 1886 to give nursing care to the sick in their homes, particularly in South Philadelphia where immigrant and African-American low-income workers and their families resided. They expanded their focus to include maternity and infant care and public health education on the prevention of infectious diseases.
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