Celebrating National Nurses Week and Florence Nightingale, handwashing innovator

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By Erin Hurley, User Services & Accessioning Archivist

Although, in 2020, advice like “wash your hands” and “cover your mouth when you cough” seem fairly obvious and common sense, there was a time when this was not the case. That time was March 1855, when the situation in British hospitals outside of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) during the Crimean War had become so dire that Florence Nightingale and 40 other women acting as trained volunteer nurses were finally allowed access to patients (they had previously been denied access because of their gender). Hospitals were overcrowded and extremely unsanitary conditions encouraged the spread of infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, typhus and dysentery, which Nightingale recognized immediately. She implemented basic cleanliness measures, such as baths for patients, clean facilities, and fresh linens, and advocated for an approach that addressed the psychological and emotional, as well as the physical, needs of patients. Her improvements brought a dramatic decline in the mortality rate at these hospitals, which had previously been as high as 40%.

While Nightingale is well known as one of the world’s first nurses, she is less well known for her strikingly lovely data visualizations (including pie charts and a rose-shaped design called the “coxcomb”), which she used to highlight the number of deaths from diseases, in addition to deaths from wounds or injury, during the Crimean War. Nightingale, a mathematician and statistician, recognized the importance of eye-catching visuals in communicating the impact of her innovations.

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th (National Nurses Day) and ends each year on May 12th (Florence Nightingale’s birthday). Today, we celebrate the history of nursing and nurses of all kinds, and the essential, life-saving work that they perform. We hope you enjoy this series of digital images from UCSF’s Archives & Special Collections, all digitized and available online through Calisphere. Archives & Special Collections also holds the fascinating Florence Nightingale Memorial Collection, created by Country Joe McDonald of Country Joe & the Fish, which you can read more about here.

Announcing the Longenecker Photograph Collection at ZSFG

We are excited to announce a new collection from the ZSFG Archives.  The Longenecker Photograph Collection, consisting of twelve boxes of prints, negatives, and glass plate negatives, is now available for research.

Don S Longenecker was the official photographer for San Francisco General Hospital from the 1950s to the 1980s.  During that time, he took photos of the interiors and exteriors of the hospital campus, staff, events, and patients, including portraits of staff members and medical photos of patients for use in publications.

ZSFG interns and residents, June 1959

Of particular note are the images that document the many changes to the hospital campus during the 30+ years of Longenecker’s career.  For example, the collection features images of the addition of fire escapes to the Nightingale wards of Buildings 10, 20, 30, and 40, the demolition of the old administration building that originally stood at the front gate entrance to the hospital, and the dedication of the new pathology building in 1967, along with other photos of both interior and exterior remodeling and construction.  The collection also includes detailed images of the brickwork and architecture of the historic buildings that date back to 1915.

Adding fire escapes to Buildings 30 and 40, circa 1950s.
During demolition of the administration building, circa 1960s.

Other highlights of the collection include photos of the surgical amphitheater, Mission Emergency, the dedication of the Trauma Center, staff labor strikes, hospital equipment, and many photos of staff events and celebrations.

Surgical theater

The finding aid for this collection is available on OAC.

Corresponding with Ralph H. Kellogg: A Record of Natural Beauty, Values, and Preservation

This is a guest post by Lynda Letona, Archives Assistant, regarding her project to process additions to the Ralph H. Kellogg papers.

 

This is the second and final blog on the Ralph H. Kellogg papers, the first of which appeared here: https://blogs.library.ucsf.edu/broughttolight/2018/02/27/ralph-h-kellogg-a-man-of-service/

Dr. Ralph H. Kellogg’s correspondence (1947-2007) features timely letters appealing to lawmakers on the need to preserve national parks in addition to editorial feedback and advice given to well-regarded physiologists who wrote important works on mountain journeys and high-altitude sickness. Below is a letter (dated May 25, 1954) addressed to Congressman John J. Allen, Jr. on the need to preserve national parks. This letter speaks in opposition to building a dam that would flood parts of Dinosaur National Monument, endangering the natural beauty, and value “to the country as a whole” reminding the reader that we can only preserve such natural treasures, “we cannot make them.” Dr. Kellogg refers to the construction of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, an important moment in environmental history to avoid repeating.

[Letter from Ralph H. Kellogg to Congressman John J. Allen on the need to preserve Dinosaur National Monument, 1954-05-25, MSS 90-38, carton 22, folder 2]

[Letter from Ralph H. Kellogg to Congressman John J. Allen on the need to preserve Dinosaur National Monument, 1954-05-25, MSS 90-38, carton 22, folder 2]

In his correspondence with colleagues such as Dr. John Burnard West, professor of physiology at the University of California, San Diego, and researcher in high-altitude medicine and adaptation, we come upon inspiring writings on the beauty of mountain exploration which serves as the impetus for the climber’s quest and the consequent need for research on respiration and high altitude physiology–a long-time shared research interest for Dr. Kellogg as well:

[Excerpt from “Mountain Journeys” by John B. West, quote by Reinhold Messner, the first climber to reach the summit of Mt. Everest without using supplemental oxygen, MSS 90-38, carton 24, folder 19]

[Excerpt from “Mountain Journeys” by John B. West, quote by Reinhold Messner, the first climber to reach the summit of Mt. Everest without using supplemental oxygen, MSS 90-38, carton 24, folder 19]

The history of altitude sickness is well preserved in Dr. Kellogg’s Correspondence Series and in his published works in the Research Series. The Daniel A. Gilbert file, where he exchanged correspondence with Dr. Gilbert, professor of physiology and a past Bowditch Lecturer of the American Physiological Society for outstanding scientist younger than 42, contains a paper titled “The First Documented Description of Mountain Sickness: The Andean or Pariacaca Story.” In this paper authored by Dr. Gilbert, we have another important document where the author credits Dr. Kellogg for his valuable advice. The folder also contains photographs of Pariacaca, the highest mountain in the Pariacaca mountain range in the Andes of Peru.

[Air view showing the west side of Pariacaca, 1990, MSS 90-38, carton 24, Folder 10]

[Air view showing the west side of Pariacaca, 1990, MSS 90-38, carton 24, Folder 10]

[Pariacaca, MSS 90-38, carton 24, Folder 10]

[Pariacaca, MSS 90-38, carton 24, Folder 10]

References and further reading:

(2000, October 18). Daniel L. Gilbert. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2000/10/18/daniel-l-gilbert-dies/485b9bf0-1f18-4cdd-8f9f-9235e8e844b6/?utm_term=.7a1804e86d45

(2014). History of the Valley. Restore Hetch Hetchy. Retrieved from https://www.hetchhetchy.org/history_of_the_valley

(n.d.). Echo Park Dam Controversy. Colorado Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://coloradoencyclopedia.org/article/echo-park-dam-controversy

OAC. (n.d.). West (John B.) Papers. Retrieved from https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt4q2nd2g2/