Nurses’ Christmas Newsletters (1928-1947), Geneva, Illinois

A presentation by Sue Anderson at the Geneva History Museum, September 2020
Replay of the Zoom presentation on YouTube

77 nurses graduated from a small town hospital’s training program in Geneva, Illinois between 1911 and 1935. They were a close-knit group, and they kept a Christmas newsletter going for 20 years, from 1928 to 1947, through the two tumultuous decades encompassing the Great Depression and World War II.

photo of nurses 1909

As a volunteer cataloger at the Geneva History Museum, I stumbled across this slim packet of newsletters. Once, I started reading them, I couldn’t stop. Here was a vibrant group of women, talking candidly about their careers, their families, and the events of their times.

Photo of nurses 1927

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made my discovery into a recorded slide program. You can watch and listen to it on YouTube, courtesy of the non-profit Geneva History Museum.

Among the women you’ll meet are a nurse who became a horseback riding midwife with the Kentucky Frontier Nursing Service in the 1930’s; nurses who joined the Armed Services during WWII and served at Pearl Harbor and in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge; and the self-reliant nurses married to local farmers, who overcame wartime shortages of farm labor with their 10-year old daughters and sons driving the tractor to feed the pigs and cut the grain!  These stories are America at it’s finest!

photos of farm life in the 1940's