The Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia Records
Held at: Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Founded in 1861 by Ann Preston, M.D., the first woman Dean of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia provided clinical experience for the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania students and practical training for nurses, and had its own administration and Board of Lady Managers. In 1929, the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women merged with the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, retaining the latter's name.
Ann Preston (1813-1872) was a member of the first graduating class of the Female Medical School (later the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania) in 1851, and continued taking classes after her graduation. As a result of the "Philadelphia Medical Society [speaking] out against the Woman’s Medical College, [and] barring women from educational clinics and medical societies, … Dr. Preston organized a board of ‘lady managers,’ wealthy supporters of the cause, to fund and run a woman’s hospital where students could gain clinical experience," (National Library of Medicine). On March 22, 1861, the Legislature of Pennsylvania granted a charter allowing “the establishment in the City of Philadelphia of a hospital for the treatment of diseases of women and children, and for obstetrical cases; furnishing at the same time facilities for clinical instruction of women engaged in the study of medicine, and for the practical training of nurses,” (Seabrook, page 776). This mission was carefully carried out over the years.
The first patient was admitted on December 18, 1861 at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, located at 2137 North College Avenue. In 1862, the hospital purchased an adjacent building, and “opened its doors to the [Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania] … arrang[ing] lecture rooms, a laboratory and a museum for them;” an arrangement which continued until 1875. The Hospital continued to grow: in 1863, a school for nursing was established; and in 1878, a maternity ward was opened. These original buildings were quickly and substantially added to in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1882 a large building with an amphitheatre and rooms for various clinics was added, and in 1884, a dormitory for nurses was added. Eventually, in 1895, a brand new building was opened which contained “besides the administration rooms and offices, kitchens, dining-rooms and pharmacy, operating rooms and accommodations for one hundred patients in wards, semi-private and private rooms,” (Seabrook, page 778). In 1904, the Hospital of the Woman's Medical College opened, and was a separate entity henceforward from The Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia. In 1905, a Nurses’ Home was added.
Along with the growth of the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia physically, the Hospital became well known for the skill of its staff as well as its graduates. In 1862, sixty-two patients were treated and by 1908, this number had grown to 1,757. (Seabrook, 780). Its Training School for Nurses was one of the first established in this country, and its graduates served in “all parts of the world,” (Seabrook, page 779).
As established in the charter, the hospital treated only women and children, with a high concentration of obstetrical cases. On one occasion this basic rule was broken: during the Spanish-American War, ninety-seven soldiers were admitted because of overcrowding at all other area hospitals. Beyond the requirements of gender and age, the “the hospital [was] open to all, no matter what their race, color or creed, and no one [was] refused admission as long as a bed [was] available,” (Seabrook, page 779).
The Hospital took seriously the goal of providing training to women studying medicine. For the most part, the physicians at the hospital were women and it was required that a woman serve as the chief resident physician. Clinical instruction was held for women students of medicine in the form of public clinics, daily clinics and resident physician opportunities, inclulding the Surgical Clinic held at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia.
In 1929, the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia merged with the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women (at the northeast corner of N. 41st and Ogden Streets), retaining the name of Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia continued to operate at that location until 1964 when it was absorbed into the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_256.html (accessed May 20, 2011).
Peitzman, M.D., Steven J. A New and Untried Course: Woman’s Medical College and Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850-1998. Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. 2000
Seabrook M.D., Alice M. “The Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia.” Founder’s Week Memorial Volume, edited by Frederick P. Henry, A.M., M.D., 776-780. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, 1909.
This collection houses the administrative records for The Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia. The records date from 1861 to 1964, with the bulk of the records covering from 1940 to 1964.
Series I (Minutes and Reports) is comprised of regular, annual, and special meeting minutes of the Board of Managers and other committees of The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia. Although the Board of Manager meeting minutes begin in 1861, the records are spotty for the years between 1861 and 1942. The collection holds complete regular Board of Manager meeting minutes from 1942 to 1960, and complete Board of Manager annual meeting minutes from 1941 to 1963. The series also contains meeting minutes from the Board of Managers Executive Committee from 1898 to 1950. However, the records only cover the years 1898 to 1907, and 1928 to 1950. It also holds the meeting minutes for the Finance Committee for the years 1935 to 1936 and 1938 to 1950. The series includes the House Committee Records from 1885 to 1890, 1896 to 1907, and 1920 to 1927; as well as the meeting minutes of the Building Committee from 1929. Also housed in Series I is a copy of "A History of the Women's Hospital of Philadelphia" by Mary W. Griscom, M.D. A copy of this document can also be found in Accession 016, the Mary Wade Griscom, M.D. Papers. Series I contains the by-laws and rules and regulations for the hospital for the years 1931 and 1946 as well as rules for the government of the hospital for the year 1922. Also contained in this series are the published Board of Managers annual reports from the years 1890 to 1930. However, the collection only holds the annual reports for the years 1890, 1896, 1898, 1899; with spotty coverage for the years between 1900 and 1930. There are no annual reports from 1923 to 1929.
Series II (Financial Records) contains various financial records of The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia from 1894 to 1963, including auditor's reports and bequests. Housed in the series is a summary of capital for the years 1921 to 1931, an account book for the years 1932 to 1938, and a treasurer's report book for the years 1894 to 1903. Also included are two ledgers containing contributions and endowments to the hospital from 1892 to 1931 and 1934 to 1964. An undated contributions record is also included. Series II also includes a stocks and bonds report for 1941, an accountant's report for 1959, financial reports from 1960 and 1963, and a budget for the years 1962 and 1963. The auditor's reports of the hospital span from 1921 to 1962, although there are gaps between 1932 and 1942 and 1946 and 1956. Bequests made to the Women's Hospital span from 1909 to 1964 and are arranged alphabetically, rather than chronologically. There are three bequest files for 1909 and three from the 1930s; however, the bulk of the bequests range from the year 1940 to 1964. Finally, Series II also includes Accession 004 (The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia Records), which consists of photocopies of the bequest files.
Series III (Clinics) contains surgical clinical reports from the Surgical Clinic held at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia for the years 1891 to 1893 and 1896 to 1897. The clinical reports include case studies and diagnoses of unnamed patients, except for the years 1892 to 1893. This casebook (Box 11, folder 3) contains names of patients and may be restricted due to patient privacy regulations. Accession 003 (The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia Records) is included in Series III and consists of a register of deaths book from the Surgical Clinic held at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia for the years 1872 to 1890. Also included in the series are several tickets for admission to the Dispensary and Clinic of The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia, located on North College Avenue. Series III holds a "historical, illustrative, and descriptive" book about The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Series IV (Training School for Nurses) holds material related to The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia's Training School for Nurses. Included in the series are minutes from meetings of the Board of Managers for the years 1863 to 1881. Also included are class day programs of the training school for the years 1923 and 1924. Finally, Series IV contains a bulletin for the school as well as a pamphlet explaining state curriculum for nursing school, circa 1957 to 1960.
Other available copies of Annual Reports (1862-1896; 1904, 1905, 1909, 1912-1914, 1925, 1930) from the Woman's Hospital are available at the Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Accessions 002, 003, and 004 constitute the entirety of The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia Records. The records for The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia were given to the University of Pennsylvania in 1964 when the hospital was absorbed by the university. The records were received by the Medical College of Pennsylvania's Archives and Special Collections in 1974, transferred from the University of Pennsylvania through the efforts of Dr Marion Fay, former dean and president of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania; and donated from Dr. Agnes Gowdey. Accession 002 also includes material related to the Training School for Nurses, donated in 1991 by Florence Stump, R.N.
These three accessions, although given separate accession numbers, were intellectually arranged together in 1977 by the archivist for the Medical College of Pennsylvania's Archives and Special Collections. There are no notes concerning the condition or original order of the material when received and/or accessioned. However, there is one exception; the Bequest files (part of Series II) were noted on the box labels as being "labeled and arranged as packaged." The collection, The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia Records, was arranged into four series in 1977: Series I, consisting of Board of Managers meeting minutes and annual reports; Series II, consisting of other committee meeting minutes; Series III, consisting of financial records; Series IV, consisting of surgical clinical records; and Series V, consisting of the material pertaining to The Women's Hospital of Philadelphia's Training School of Nurses.
In 2011, the legacy finding aid for this collection was converted into an electronic finding aid guide, which was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
In April and May of 2013, the collection was re-housed and re-processed. A decision was made to create a separate finding aid for the materials which were added to Accession 002 in 1991. These materials pertain to the Training School for Nurses and were donated by Florence Stump, R.N. The decision to create a separate finding aid was reached because the previous archivist had felt it appropriate to add the material to Accession 002, and because we felt that including Florence Stump's donation in the same finding aid as the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia Records would cause it to get lost within the other materials.
The "Summary of Capital," Series II: Financial Records, can be found in Flat File drawer B5 due to the fact that it is oversized.
In April and May of 2013, the collection was re-housed and re-processed. A decision was made to create a separate finding aid for the materials which were added to Accession 002 in 1991. These materials pertain to the Training School for Nurses and were donated by Florence Stump, R.N. The decision to create a separate finding aid was reached because the previous archivist had felt it appropriate to add the material to Accession 002, and because we felt that including Florence Stump's donation in the same finding aid as the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia Records would cause it to get lost within the other materials. The materials are therefore housed separately from the rest of Accession 002. See Resource WM.002.a.
The diploma from Woman's Hospital Training School for Nurses to Sarah Margaretta Hershey (1914), Florence Stump Collection, can be found in Flat File drawer B5 due to the fact that it is oversized.
The photostat copy of a blueprint for Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia (1909), Florence Stump Collection, can be found in Flat File drawer B5 due to the fact that it is oversized.
- Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sandra Chaff, 1977. Revised by Garrett Boos, 2011. Revised by Chrissie Landis, 2013.
- Finding Aid Date
- Part of the creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project in 2011.
- Access Restrictions
Box 6, Folder 1 (Minutes and Reports: Board of Managers Minutes, 1955)- Marked as "confidential" by original processor. Box 11, Folder 3 (Clinics: Surgical Clinical Reports-Dr John B. Roberts Clinics, 1892-1893) - May contain patient privacy restrictions.