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Posts Tagged ‘St. Vincent’s Medical Center’

St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village was not just a place of employment for nurses, but it was also a place for education. In 1892, forty-three years after the hospital’s opening, the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing opened its doors to women. The school was first directed by Katherine A. Sanborn.  Many graduates from this school continued their work at St. Vincent’s hospital. Other graduates  went to work elsewhere in New York City, including the New York Foundling Hospital, another institution directed by the Sisters of Charity. Eventually, in the 1930s, St. Vincent’s School of Nursing began to accept men. This produced even more graduates and more St. Vincent’s educated nurses working in the field.

St. Vincent's School of Nursing 1905 Graduates

Soon after, the United States found itself on the brink of war, resulting in a high demand for nurses.  St. Vincent’s Hospital was one of the first New York institutions to react to a wartime United States. St. Vincent’s lost many nurses who desired to fulfill their patriotic duty and went overseas to care for the wounded.  Those who remained in New York City  took part in rationing, and practiced air strike drills.  St. Vincent’s nurses also collected blood and plasma during the war, as it became one of the centers for the New York City Blood and Plasma exchange. The hospital became a site for draftee examinations. Over five hundred men were sent to Greenwich Village to be examined by the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s.

In 1941, St. Vincent’s and the School of Nursing became a center for the U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps.  The U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps was “the nation’s first integrated Uniformed U.S. Service Corps.”  The nurses in the Corps were a vital entity on the home front, taking the jobs of their counterparts that were sent to Europe.  According to the U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps website, their nurses made up 80% of nursing care in the United States by the end of World War II.

U.S. Cadet Nurses Corps

While the U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps was making St. Vincent’s their newest home base, the hospital established their own Volunteer Corps.  Mrs. Edmund Borgia Butler, an influential woman involved with the Catholic Board of Charities, brought life to this Volunteer Corps.  Mrs. Butler selected the thirty initials members, but by the end 1943, the Corps had over seven hundred members who were working within the hospital, filling any vacant jobs. The Volunteer Corps played an integral part in the continued success of the hospital. The hardships of war did not prevent St. Vincent’s hospital from existing as a functioning institution.

The end of the war marked a great transformation for St. Vincent’s Hospital. The hospital was growing physically with new building projects. It was also expanding its influence with the growing number of nurses that were being educated at its school and working in its wards. St. Vincent’s was no longer considered just a hospital, but rather St. Vincent’s Medical Center. The events of World War II are testament to the great reliance that was placed on not just the men who were fighting the battles, but also the people who were there behind the lines taking care of them.   The nurses of St. Vincent’s, as well as other nurses across America, had a significant impact on society and the places that they worked in.

Today neither St. Vincent’s Medical Center or the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing remain open, but their influence and memory is still with the many New Yorkers who walked through their doors in Greenwich Village.

For more information on St. Vincent’s School of Nursing check out their alumnae website.

Other Sources:

St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center, An Illustrated History, 1999.

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Having trouble finding archives that have the materials you need? ArchiveGrid is a great tool to use if you do not know where to begin your search! It is a free resource that allows the user access to information about different collections and finding aids that any of the participating archives have.

ArchiveGrid Homepage

ArchiveGrid became a free website in 2012, allowing researchers to use its database without subscribing to it, like it had done in the past.  The database contains over two million searchable archival collections. According to the about page on the ArchiveGrid website, it“provides access to detailed archival collection descriptions, making information available about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and other archival materials. It also provides contact information for the institution where the collections are kept.”The website is designed to recognize your current location so that it can best serve your search needs. When you receive your search results, they are ranked by both closest in proximity and the hits that best fits the phrase you searched.

ArchiveGrid is supported by the Online Computer Library Center (also known as OCLC). OCLC is an organization that connects different libraries from all over the world. OCLC also manages the infamous WorldCat, the database that Bobst Library uses to make their catalogues searchable. Like OCLC, ArchiveGrid gives archives and libraries the opportunity to share their collections with the World Wide Web, allowing them to reach out to more people than they could in the past.

For my digital archive and website, I am focusing on St. Vincent’s Medical Center, once located on Greenwich Village on W. 11th Street until its close in 2010. Since this institution is no longer open, I have been searching high and low for all sorts of documents that would be relevant for my research. ArchiveGrid was one of the major tools that I have used and has directed me to different archives that I can utilize.

The ArchiveGrid search bar is at the top right where you can enter any phrase or topic that you would like to search. When I typed in “St. Vincent’s Hospital NYC,” I received 631 results.

Search Results

The website divided its findings into a result list and a result summary. When you click on the “Result Overview” tab, it breaks down the results based on: people, groups, places, archives, archive locations and topics.

Results Overview Page

This is very useful when trying to narrow down the 631 matches that ArchiveGrid provided for me. You can conduct your search from here by choosing a specific topic. The results generated on the “Results Overview” helped me identify different topics about St. Vincent’s that I would like to focus on in my online exhibit. For example I can select the group “Catholic Church,” or the topic “Medicine and Health,” since St. Vincent’s was a Catholic medical center. I can also select narrow my search by the location of the archives.  When I click on New York, I am left with 69 results, much smaller from my first search. The different collections range from oral histories from 9/11 victims who were treated at St. Vincent’s, to the papers of doctors or an AIDS activist videotape collection. Under each collection is a description, if available and the name of the archive that the collection is located. The researcher can than click below that the link for either contact information for the archive or the finding aid for that collection. For example, the 9/11 oral histories are located at Columbia University and I am then directed to their contact us page on their website.

Contact and Collection Information

From here I can browse through their collection and determine if I need to make a visit to their library. I now know that I have the ability to include information on St. Vincent’s significant role after the events of 9/11 into my exhibit as well as any information regarding the AIDS clinic that was established at St. Vincent’s.

ArchiveGrid is a great resource to use if you are looking for archives to go to without having to visit them right away and making any unnecessary trips. It also helps you to be a more efficient researcher as you can go into any archive that you find on ArchiveGrid and know exactly which collection and even which folder you are looking for. For more information on ArchiveGrid and OCLC check out their websites!

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