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Digital Library Discoveries: The 1918 Flu Pandemic

With the world currently battling a new global pandemic of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, many news sources are looking back at the 1918-1919 worldwide influenza pandemic commonly known as the Spanish flu. An estimated 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population, became infected with the virus and the number of deaths is estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 deaths occurring in the United States.

While researching one of our newest Digital Library collections from partner organization The Museum of Nursing History, I came across a featured article in Columbia University’s School of Nursing Alumnae newsletter highlighting Ada Mutch and her experience in 1918.

Philadelphia in particular had “the highest, most rapidly accumulating death toll” in the country. With many doctors, nurses, and medical staff serving overseas in World War I, it was left to nursing students and lay people to step in and help tend to the sick. In Bryn Mawr, the local hospital was overwhelmed with patients and an emergency hospital was opened in the old, vacant Lancaster Inn. At thirteen years old, future World War II army nurse Ada Mutch and her sister volunteered as kitchen help preparing food and serving meals to the doctors, nurses, and staff. They helped to prepare visitors by dressing them in protective gowns and masks and escorting them to see their ill family members. Amazingly, none of the Mutch family became ill.

Ardmore Chronicle – Volume XXIX, No. 55 [57 sic], Saturday, November 2, 1918.

Towards the end of October 1918 the Board of Health for the state of Pennsylvania began to gradually lift quarantines and reopen public places. In our Digital Library, an article in the November 2nd issue of the Ardmore Chronicle reports, “after four weeks the influenza ban which has kept the lid upon virtually every form of activity in the community outside of those connected with the most stringent needs of the people and Government, will be lifted tomorrow in Lower Merion, when the churches will be permitted to resume services. Monday the schools will again hold daily sessions, and Tuesday saloons, theatres, poolrooms, dance halls and other public places will be allowed to open.” Still, the Acting Commissioner of Health, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Royer warned, “great care should be practiced at the time of removing restrictions.”

While we are currently practicing “social distancing” here in Pennsylvania in 2020, Falvey’s Digital Library is always open and awaiting your discovery!


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New Digital Library Resource: WWII Army Nurse Records

Last week we shared some highlights from a recently digitized collection (See: New Digital Partnership: Museum of Nursing History), and we’ve just added some additional items – the scrapbook and papers of World War II Army Nurse Jessie Margaret Ada Mutch (1905-2012).

 

Women in Uniform (The New York Times Magazine, January 24, 1943); from Scrapbook (Part 2).

Ada Mutch was born February 2, 1905 in Scotland and emigrated to the U.S. in 1912 with her parents and siblings. Reverend Andrew Mutch, her father, was Pastor of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Ms. Mutch was educated at The Baldwin School and then earned her Nursing Degree at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital School in New York. In World War II she enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She served from 1942-1946 and distinguished herself in the European Theater of Operations. She then returned to Columbia-Presbyterian to pursue her career in nursing, along with a master’s degree in 1948. She held a dual position as Assistant Director of Nursing and Assistant Professor of Nursing at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. In 1955 she became the Director of Nursing at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania until her retirement in 1970. She was active for many years as a volunteer for ElderNet, and died on January 27, 2012, one week before her 107th birthday.

Items in this collection include a large scrapbook compiled during her time serving in the U.S. Army Nurse Corp, as well as various materials relating to her career in the army and as a nurse. The disbound scrapbook is on brittle paper and very fragile in nature. Digitization serves as a preservation strategy by creating a surrogate version of the item that allows for immediate access. We are proud to partner with the Museum of Nursing History to digitize the history of this important profession.

 

Most of the scrapbook appears to be from her time in France and contains many French theater programs and souvenirs, photographs, maps, correspondence, newspaper and newsletter clippings and full articles, and several United States government publications from the War Department. Ada Mutch served overseas for three years and two months during World War II. Initially she was a 1st Lieutenant and Assistant Chief Nurse in England; and subsequently became director of the Nursing Section, Northern Ireland Base Section. She later acted in this capacity in France, in the Brittany Base Section, and then in the Burgundy Bay Section, concluding her service in Europe as Director of the Nursing Service in the 807th Hospital Center.

Photograph and map, the “Palace” Hotel, Vittel, France, where the 807th Hospital Center was stationed, April 20 – July 17, 1945.

We were able to scan only a portion of this collection before the temporary closure of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to return to campus and share the remainder of this exceptional scrapbook and additional items from Ms. Mutch’s collection – as soon as it is safe!


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New Digital Partnership: Museum of Nursing History

Earlier this year, Falvey Memorial Library began a new Digital Library partnership with the Museum of Nursing History, currently located in the former Germantown Dispensary and Hospital on the campus of La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA. This fascinating museum is committed to the preservation and exhibition of historical nursing memorabilia and to the education about nursing’s past. We are excited to assist in the realization of this mission through digitizing and sharing some of their collections online. We were able to scan a portion of this collection before the temporary closure of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are happy to be able to share the materials scanned so far.

Cadet Nurse Corps Records, 1943-1946.

 

First up is the collection of Elizabeth (Betty) Lattell-Beardmore-McQuale (1926-2017), a graduate of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps training program at Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. Items in this collection relate to Betty’s long career as a nurse, and many of the items highlight her time in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps program.

Betty began her nursing career in 1943 by joining the Cadet Nurse Corps. Created by Congress in response to a shortage of nurses during World War II, the program recruited women ages 17 to 35 who had graduated high school, for admission to nursing schools by offering to cover their tuition and living costs in exchange for an oath of service during the war. The bill that was passed by Congress included an amendment that prohibited discrimination based on race or ethnicity.

 

A Salute to the Cadet Nurse Corps, Commemorating 50 Years of Service, [1994].

 

Of particular note are Betty’s classmates from nurse training – Jean Y. Oda, Emmy E. Ogami, and Marion H. Tanamachi – three Japanese American women from California. When Betty’s family donated the collection, her daughter especially noted these friends of her mother’s whom she had met later in life, and how they shared that they had enrolled in the Cadet Nurse Corps program in order to be released from Japanese internment camps, where their families were forced to relocate during World War II. Over 350 Japanese American women joined this program and became nurses. View photos of Betty and her friends in the two photograph albums and Betty’s 1946 yearbook, The Episcopalian, which contains many signatures and hand-written notes of well wishes.

 

Photograph Album 1, of Elizabeth Lattell, [1943-1946].

We are proud to provide access to materials about the history of nursing through the Museum’s collections, especially during this public health crisis. We are all more grateful than ever to the nurses and other healthcare heroes! We will be sharing more items from this collection next week, so stay tuned.


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Katholischer Katechismus

Posted for: Darren Poley, Theology / Outreach Librarian

A digital donation from our newest partner, The German Society of Pennsylvania

Katholischer Katechismus (1860)

Katholischer Katechismus (1860)

In all Catholic dioceses of the United States, January 5th is a day to commemorate Saint John Neumann. Interestingly he was a German immigrant to the U.S., bishop of Philadelphia, and an especially important figure in American Catholic history. In the Fall of 2015 The German Society of Pennsylvania founded in 1764, the oldest organization in the United States dedicated to fostering understanding about German and German-American contributions to U.S. history and culture, became a digital partner with Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library. Among the items loaned by GSP’s library to Falvey for digital preservation was a German edition of the Catholic Catechism which St. John Neumann wrote. Extant copies published before the American Civil War of this text used for religious education within the German Catholic community are relatively rare.

See:

https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:438256


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Last Modified: February 8, 2016