DALLAS TWP. — Misericordia University is digitizing over 100 years of local nursing history as part of a campaign to create an online resource.
Misericordia University was one of 42 institutions nationwide who were invited by the Council of Independent Colleges to participate in a project to digitize their academic collections.
CIC is an association of 600 universities and colleges with a goal to provide educational and professional support to academia.
Misericordia University’s nursing archive, called “the Center for Nursing History in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” contains over 5,000 items, including photographs, documents and various medical instruments.
“The Center for Nursing History serves Northeastern Pennsylvania’s past, present and future and recognizes the impact of regional nurses,” Donna Ayers Snelson, the center’s director, said in an email. “The Center for Nursing History is devoted to the advancement of nursing scholarships and research by bringing the evolution of regional nursing and nursing education to life through exhibits, sponsored events and digital media.”
CIC’s $2.2 million grant funding will make Misericordia’s collection and other academic archives available to the public, Ayers Snelson said.
Nearly 250 items from Misericordia’s collection are posted on Shared Shelf Commons at www.sscommons.org, said Jessica Garner, a university archivist.
The collection was donated by residents, nursing professionals and local hospitals to the Sister Mary Carmel McGargle Archives at the university’s Mary Kintz Bevevino Library, Ayers Snelson said.
“Originally the photos and documents were housed in the many schools of nursing and hospitals in our area,” Ayers Snelson said. “As mergers occurred in health care in our area and the schools of nursing closed, it was interested alumni from these facilities that personally housed this memorabilia.”
In 2005, Misericordia University opened the Center for Nursing History to “serve as a central repository for the many artifacts, memorabilia and treasures of the history of nursing,” Ayers Snelson said.
Garner, along with library intern Amy Houck, collection management head Sameera Redkar and library services director Jennifer Luksa, carefully handled old black and white photos and discovered some interesting pieces of local nursing history.
“Many hospitals were started near mines,” Garner said. “But I have not yet found a photograph of a nurse with a miner.”
Garner and Houck dated some of the photographs depending on what the nurses were wearing.
“In 1887, nursing uniforms had long-sleeves, pin-striped shirts, an ankle-length skirt and a smock,” Houck said.
Garner and Houck found that as the years progressed, nursing uniform skirt hems became shorter, eventually stopping at the knee.
Another fact Garner found was all medical supplies were made of glass or metal. The items were consistently cleaned, sanitized and reused, she said.
“Needle tips were metal,” Garner said. “Nurses had to clean them, sharpen them and sanitize them. It makes you think of the workload these ladies carried, besides caring for patients.”
Other items in the university’s collection include uniforms, caps and nurse’s capes, plus larger items such as a child’s wooden wheelchair from the Nanticoke State Hospital, dating back to the 1900s. Garner also will be digitizing an 1887 nursing student ledger from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
Appointments can be made to view the collection or to donate items by calling Garner at 570-674-6420.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews