The Philadelphia General Hospital photo collection is a collaboration between the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing and the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image (SCETI). Featuring over a thousand images which cover the full history of the PGH nursing school, this site will serve as an invaluable research resource that highlights the evolution of the City of Philadelphia and the growth of the nursing profession in general. The photos also provide a visual narrative to issues of class, race, and the inequity found in healthcare access during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The photo collection of the Alumnae Association of the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing totals over 1500 images spanning the years 1880 to the 1970s. The collection features not only the School of Nursing, but also the wards and campus of the Philadelphia Almshouse and the Philadelphia General Hospital. The photos were preserved in pristine condition through the years and offer an exceptional glimpse into the broad spectrum of activities engaged in by nurses and other health care providers; the buildings and settings used for health care delivery; and the patients cared for within the institution.
Perhaps the most compelling images contained in the collection are those of the individuals who were the recipients of services within the almshouse and hospital. By featuring almshouse residents and hospitalized patients, the collection contributes to a deeper understanding of the evolution of health care practices through the framework of historical inquiry.
The uniqueness of this photo collection lies in its impressive portrayal of life in a tax supported municipal institution as it transitioned from an almshouse to a fully fledged hospital. Its focus on nurses and nursing as an integral professional component in the life of the hospital highlights the significant contributions made by the profession to the American health care system. The breadth, depth, and scope of this collection, illuminating the daily life and work of a hospital community are vast, making it a historically important collection in the field of health care and nursing history.
You can view the collection at the Penn Nursing website.
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