Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Nursing

Philadelphia General Hospital Nursing Class

A black and white image of a group of women in nurse uniforms seated in a lecture hall. Another woman in a nursing uniform stands in front of them next to a lectern them.

Philadelphia General Hospital’s School of Nursing brought a new level of professionalism to nursing. This 1949 photograph shows a class of senior nursing students in uniforms attending a lecture at the school. (Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing)

Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

Philadelphia General Hospital’s School of Nursing brought a new level of professionalism to nursing. The hospital was founded as the Philadelphia Almshouse in 1731 to serve the indigent and mentally ill. Originally built in Center City, it moved to a much larger campus in Blockley Township (now the University City section of West Philadelphia) in 1831. “Old Blockley” soon became notorious for filthy and overcrowded conditions. The hospital began a series of reforms in the 1880s to improve patient care and restore its reputation.

One such reform was the establishment of a School of Nursing. It was founded by Alice Fisher, a nurse who had been trained by Florence Nightingale. Prior to its founding in 1885, much of the nursing staff at Philadelphia General Hospital was drawn from the recovering patient population. This 1949 photograph shows a class of senior nursing students in uniforms attending a lecture at the school. In 1920, the “lunatic” population was moved to Byberry State Hospital, and the facility began to operate as a modern, conventional hospital, but continued to serve the poor community. It was closed in 1977.

6 Comments Comments

  1. To Whom It May Concern, This might seem like an odd request but I’m interested in any information you can offer me about a former graduate Philomena V. Del Viscio. Phil and & J. Lorraine Gutzler graduated together from PGH class of 1946 and became very good friends. After my mother’s death in 1961 my dad Vincent Del Viscio married Lorraine. Dad had been introduced to Lorraine through her good friend Phil who was my dad’s cousin.

    Guess at the time I didn’t bother to ask questions about dad’s family connection to Philomena other than that they were cousins. Searching now through Ancestry I can’t find how many siblings my grandfather had and their names. So this information Philomena’s parents names I’m was hoping to get from you. If I recall her family lived in Havertown, PA.

    Unfortunately I no longer have anyone to ask about these family ties but hoping you would help me. Sincerely, Chris (Del Viscio) Montis

    Chris Montis Posted November 16, 2018 at 5:44 pm
  2. My godmother, Dorothy Byrd Jordan is a graduate of PGH, I believe the Class of 1952. I am clearing out her house, as she will soon be going into a nursing facility. I have come across a box of a smaller version of the unique PGH Nurse’s Cap and a box of standard sized Nurse’s Cap.

    Pat Tubin is listed as the sender, but to date I have been unable to contact her.

    I hope that I can get information with regard to where I get send the caps.

    Thank you.

    Lynne Banker Posted January 19, 2019 at 6:43 pm
  3. I’m looking for graduation records from this school. My grandmother graduated from there some time between 1938-1942. Needing the year.

    Kate Kraybill Posted June 30, 2019 at 8:13 pm
  4. Lynne Baker:
    Pat Tubin may have been the person who cleaned the caps for PGH graduates. Dorothy Byrd Jordan was a class of 1952 graduate. This can be confirmed in the book, “The Double Frill”.

    Kate Kraybill:
    What was your grandmother’s maiden name? If you provide it, I can try to locate it for you. Graduation records were with the City of Philadelphia Archives but you will need the year to locate them.

    Kathleen Silage Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:26 pm
  5. Hi Lynne- I am a PGH graduate if the class of 1976, the last 3 year diploma class before its closing. If you have any PGH moment is that you are looking for a home for, I would gladly accept them and pay for postage. Thank you, Diane, RN

    Diane Prescott Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:04 pm
  6. I am searching for information about my great aunt Anna (Nan) Denby who graduated from PGH school of nursing in 1913.
    Thank You

    marijane meckling Posted August 28, 2020 at 1:30 pm

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