Friday, April 24, 2015

A Visit from the School of Nursing Archives Committee

This week we were fortunate to host a visit from the committee of School of Nursing [SON] alumnae responsible for the safe transfer of the SON Archives collection to HC&A. These dedicated committee members spent countless hours gathering and identifying the materials that represented decades of the school's history. They worked closely with Karen Peterson, our since-retired University Archivist, and ensured that materials were inventoried and preserved in archival boxes before they even came to the archives - it was quite a "turn-key" collection for us, thanks to the efforts of this dedicated team!

Our visit started with a tour of the repository area where the materials are stored, where we discussed the preservation concerns we addressed and our methods for storing the materials in a logical and accessible manner.
Image via Mark Kemball, OHSU Foundation
Discussions included our recently-completed project to store the group of SON uniforms and capes that comprise quite a sizable series in the SON collection. Our student assistant Crystal, who took charge of the project, will be addressing this feat in an upcoming blog post! 
I call it, "Anatomy of a Nursing Cape Preservation Box"
After touring the stacks and discussing how HC&A addressed preservation issues for the diverse array of materials, we adjourned to the History of Medicine room to show off our new space and share a preview of our planned Fall 2015 exhibit of the collection.

On our reading room table, we displayed some representative selections for a sneak peak of the exhibit, which will run from September through December of 2015 in the main lobby of the OHSU Library. The lamps pictured below mark a tradition carried on during the "capping ceremonies" at commencement each year, pictured in this favorite image from our Historical Images Collection. We also displayed several items related to Multnomah Hospital Training School, which predated the University of Oregon Medical School's Department of Nursing Education, itself a precursor to University of Oregon School of Nursing and the current Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing (did you catch all those name changes?!).
SON commencement lamp, next to eponymous yearbook!
Diploma from Multnomah Hospital Training School, SON's precursor
We also brought out a selection of yearbooks, which are always one of my favorite items in a collection like this. Often yearbooks offer great images that aren't represented elsewhere in the archives, like all of the wonderful candid student activities photos in these yearbooks from 1939 and 1949!
1939 "Pylon", the School of Nursing yearbook
1949 yearbook
As one of our visitors pointed out, the yearbooks also provide great visual identification assistance when it comes to the textiles: Changes in caps, aprons, capes, and collars throughout the years are documented and definitely dated in the yearbooks, providing a great visual accompaniment to the wonderful scroll of nursing uniform changes created by committee member Elaine Mahoney, RN, MPH.

We are so incredibly fortunate to have such excellent allies and partners-in-archives in the SON Archives committee. As we noted during the visit, HC&A can only preserve and share the historical materials that people think to conserve and transfer or donate to us. It is the foresight of individuals like these dedicated alumnae that ensures that records like those of the School of Nursing become part of the history of the health sciences. We are also very grateful to Mark Kemball of the OHSU Foundation for arranging this wonderful visit!

The complete finding aid to the collection may be accessed here:
http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/library/about/collections/historical-collections-archives/collections-archives/upload/2014-009_school-of-nursing-archive-collection.pdf

Stay tuned as we ramp up preparations for the Fall 2015 School of Nursing Archives exhibit this summer!

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