In Her Own Right

West Philadelphia Hospital for Women records

Date created 1889-01-01 – 1932-01-01
Creators West Philadelphia Hospital for Women
Abstract Founded by Dr. Elizabeth Comly-Howell in 1889, the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women was established in order to provide a place in West Philadelphia where women could be treated by women. In 1929, the hospital merged with the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia. At the time of the merger, it was arranged that all maternity cases would be sent to the West Philadelphia Hospital, and surgical cases would be kept at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia. The Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia continued in existence until 1964 when it was absorbed by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The collection contains Board of Manager records, Executive Committee records and historical materials.The West Philadelphia Hospital for Women records are arranged in three series: "Board of Managers records," "Executive Committee records," and "Historical materials." The "Board of Managers records" includes Regular Monthly Meeting minutes from 1889 to 1901 and 1917 to 1932; Annual Meeting Minutes from 1920 to 1929; and Annual Reports from 1890 to 1893, 1904 to 1910, 1913 to 1914, and 1918 to 1927. The "Executive Committee records" include Regular Monthly Meeting minutes from 1908 to 1914. The "Historical materials" series consists of a history of the Hospital, circa 1899; rules for the Superintendent and Directress of Nurses, 1901; the Charter and By-Laws of the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women, 1912; Broomall Club new members letter, 1916; a descriptive brochure, 1917; and the resolution to merge with Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, circa 1929.
Description Board of Managers minutes are procedural, with more space devoted to committee reports, budgets, and resolutions than to the practice of medicine. However, they do shed light on institutional and treatment practices, noting the number of patients admitted (including free or at reduced rates), prescriptions written, and surgeries performed, as well as listing hospital staff and discussing the kinds of equipment and facilities they need. Executive Committee minutes also include committee reports, budgets, and resolutions, but they are more hands-on in terms of the day-to-day happenings in the hospital and its nurse training program, including students' grades, relationships between students and instructors, and what constituted proper training. Annual reports are the most detailed of all, with comprehensive breakdowns of patients and treatments. They also include tables of income, disbursements, and donations, as well as pictures of the facilities.
Research interest In addition to the importance of the annual reports, historians who study women's voluntary organizations will find these papers useful. From the beginning, they show hospital leaders running the institution like a business, very much in keeping with the organizational patterns of women's benevolent work earlier in the nineteenth century. Other women's historians will note with interest the participation of philanthropist Anna T. Jeanes. Researchers of the history of medicine will find these materials very instructive in illustrating how treatment and training programs changed over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Size 1.25 lf
Full collection description Home repository description for West Philadelphia Hospital for Women records
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Contributing institution Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center
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