Digitized Collections & Sites

The Barbara Bates Center is committed to increasing access to its collections through digitization. A listing of available materials is located below on our digitized collections and sites

The Center’s growing collection of digitized material allows researchers from around the world to access the Center’s world-class archives and special collections.

For additional information concerning the collections view our finding aids. For questions regarding digitized items, high resolution images, reproductions, or our digitizing efforts, please contact the Center.


Digitized Collections

Albert Einstein Medical Center Mount Sinai Hospital annual report related to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing (later merged into Albert Einstein Medical Center) provided medical care to low-income families of the Jewish faith, though not exclusively, in South Philadelphia. Digitized for the anniversary of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, these materials are annual report sections that describe the flu and nurses’ efforts and sacrifices.

Brandywine Home Health Agency

Coatesville Visiting Nurses Association (later Brandywine Home Health Agency) provided home nursing service for the Coatesville area. The digitized items portray the actions and activities of nurses and nursing institutions during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. These minutes report on the number of patients being seen, patient cases, and relief efforts to support families.

Mary V. Clymer diaries

Clymer left her notebooks at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) Nurse’s residence when she graduated in 1889. The first volume contains Clymer’s lecture notes taken in class, the second contains much the same material, recopied. Comparing corresponding pages of the two volumes reveals how her course work was structured. The notes document also the variety of experiences which were part of her educational program including rotations in the hospital wards where she performed assigned duties under supervision of nursing faculty and nursing staff employed by the hospital. The diaries are featured on Who Was the Woman in White? and through Penn Libraries.

Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing

Lankenau, founded as the German Hospital, was founded to provide medical care for German immigrants in North Philadelphia. Digitized are sections of annual reports that describe the 1918 influenza pandemic and nurses’ efforts and sacrifices during the fight against the flu.

Chloe Cudsworth Littlefield diaries

The diaries and training school lecture notes of Chloe Cudsworth Littlefield, an 1883 graduate of the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia Nurses’ Training School, document the personality and the practice of one practitioner. Not only do the items document a life but also provide a deeply layered perspective on 19th century nursing training and private duty practice that challenges historical assumptions.

Mercy Douglass Hospital School of Nursing student records pre-1920

This series of images from Frederick Douglass Hospital are pre-1920 student records that document the demographics of nursing students, including age, educational and employment background, location, and religion. The records also include letters from potential students, references, performance evaluations, employment after graduation, the subjects required for training, and the qualities associated with a successful nurse.

National League for Nursing

Available online are a selection of digitized Annual Report and Proceedings from the NLN. The early annual reports are the proceedings of their annual conventions. Contained are the speeches, meeting notes of discussions, and resolutions passed during the event. Digitized but not yet available online are over 50 video tapes produced by the NLN during the 1980s and 1990s. Video topics range from annual convention keynotes to interviews with nursing leaders to healthcare policies and practice, among many others.

Philadelphia General Hospital photo collection

This collection features over 1500 images covering the School of Nursing as well as the wards and campus of the Philadelphia Almshouse and the Hospital from 1880 to the 1970s. These well-preserved photos offer a glimpse into the broad variety of activities of nurses and healthcare providers, healthcare buildings and care setting, and patients. The collection contributes to a deeper understanding of the evolution of health care practices through the framework of historical inquiry, as it transitioned from an almshouse to a fully-fledged hospital. Its focus on nurses and nursing as an integral professional component in the life of the hospital highlights the significant contributions made by the profession to the American health care system.

Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing

This school of nursing cared for patients in West Philadelphia, particularly those of the Presbyterian faith. Digitized for the anniversary of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, these materials include annual report sections that describe the flu and nurses’ efforts and sacrifices.

Also available are a selection of student ledgers of those nurses who were at the school during the Influenza pandemic of 1918. This selection of records documents the number of students caring for patients, how many contracted influenza, how many were sick from other ailments or were healthy, and how many died.

Visiting Nurse Association of Hudson Valley

Located in rural New York, the Visiting Nurse Association of Hudson Valley provided skilled nursing to patients in their homes as well as to instruct families on proper nursing care. Digitized are the annual report sections that describe the 1918 influenza pandemic and nurses’ efforts and sacrifices during the fight against the flu.

Visiting Nurse Society of Philadelphia records

This scrapbook from 1918-1919 features newspaper clippings that focus on fundraising efforts during the war for the Visiting Nurse Society of Philadelphia (VNSoP), the new services offered by the organization, and their actions during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. The clippings available online 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 minutes of the VNSoP during the Influenza pandemic have also been made available online. These minutes report on the number of patients being seen, nurses hired and their health, patient cases, relief efforts to support families, and funds raised for victims.

The annual report of the VNSoP summarizes the effort of the organization during the Influenza pandemic are available online.

Women’s Auxiliary of the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania’s Ward G (Children’s Ward)

The Women’s Auxiliary was an organization of women who met periodically to discuss the needs of children being treated in the children’s ward of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Items digitized portray the actions and activities of nursing institutions during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. These minutes report on the children’s cases and relief efforts to support families and orphans.


Portrait of Mary Clymer, date unknown. Who Was the Woman in White?

This site explores the life of Mary V. Clymer, an exceptional, talented nurse, who graduated from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Training School for Nursing in 1889. Clymer’s life intersected with many prominent 19th c. Philadelphians, including the painter Thomas Eakins and the celebrated Penn surgeon Dr. D. Hayes Agnew.

Visiting Nurse Society of Philadelphia scrapbook of newspaper clippings related to the society be... Calm, Cool, Courageous: Nursing and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Philadelphia experienced one of the highest death rates in the country during the 1918 influenza pandemic. This site uses material from visiting nurse associations and schools of nursing to highlight the work and experiences of nurses in Philadelphia during the 1918 flu pandemic.

Postcard showing nurses marching in suffrage parade. Suffrage Parade in New York for Votes for Wo... Suffrage and Nursing: Creating and Asserting Agency

Women have asserted their rights and fought for autonomy long before they fought for and achieved the right to vote in 1920. Nurses and nursing developed alongside the fight for women’s suffrage, and the struggle to improve conditions for the poor and the dispossessed. Activism, as traditionally defined seeks to promote or direct social, political, or economic change. Activism, as experienced by nurses, opened possibilities for both women in their personal lives, and also for the individuals, families, and communities they served.

Funding and support for projects provided by:

Alice Fisher Society Fellowship for Historical Research in Nursing, Alumnae Association of the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing

Baer Photoarchiving Fund

Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

Council on Library & Information Resources (CLIR) - as a part of Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries’ (PACSCL) In Her Own Right: A Century of Women’s Activism, 1820-1920

Digital Penn Libraries

Independence Foundation

National League for Nursing

Solomon and Sylvia Bronstein Foundation

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

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For further questions about the collections please contact the Bates Center at nhistory@nursing.upenn.edu or (215) 898-4502.