• IdentificationMSITSN75
  • TitleIllinois Training School for Nurses records MSITSN75
  • PublisherSpecial Collections
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositorySpecial Collections
  • Physical Description22.0 Linear feet
  • Date1881-1980
  • AbstractThe records of the Illinois Training School for Nurses (ITSN) document the history of the school from its inception until well after it ceased operation. The collection has been divided into four series: Student records, Administrative records, Oversize items, and Indexes. Student records (1881-1929) include application materials, correspondence, efficiency reports, grade books, intelligence tests, medical records, newspaper clippings, record books, and transcripts. Administrative records include minutes of Board of Directors' meetings, brochures, by-laws, correspondence, faculty personnel files, financial and legal records, forms, publications, statistics, and speeches. Many ITSN publications are also contained in the collection. Aside from a number of brochures, flyers, and course catalogs, there are three student annuals or yearbooks. The alumnae association's newsletter, The Report, is available in a nearly complete run from 1942 to 1980. Photographs of alumnae association meetings in 1915 and 1924 are in the oversize section. Other photographs, mainly of Cook County Hospital wards, are listed with oversize items, as is a student nurse's uniform.
  • LocationPlease note that this collection is housed in the Special Collections and University Archives Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago Library of the Health Sciences, 1750 West Polk Street, Room 320 Chicago, Illinois, 60612.
  • OriginationIllinois Training School for Nurses.

Old Resource ID was HS15

The Illinois Training School for Nurses (ITSN) was established September 21, 1880 by a group of prominent Chicago women dedicated to the prospect of training young women to care scientifically for the sick. Twenty-five directors, all female, headed the project. Prominent among these were Sarah L. Wright, Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson, Margaret Lawrence, Lucy L. Flower, and Elizabeth B. Carpenter.

Considerable political opposition to the plan was based on the belief that modest young women of good moral character were not suited for a profession which required a rigorous education, long hours of work, and intimate contact with strangers. However, on November 13, 1880, the Chicago Medical Society passed a resolution affirming its support for ITSN. On December 1, the Cook County Commissioners and the Training School reached an agreement that the county would pay the school to provide trained instructors and student nurses to staff one medical and one surgical ward of the Cook County Hospital.

On May 1, 1881 the first pupil nurses began working in the wards, replacing untrained male nurses who had held their positions through political appointments. Later that year, the school began providing nurses for the lying-in ward. Other wards followed shortly: in 1882 all remaining female and medical wards; in 1883 the surgical wards; in 1893 the contagious disease hospital; in 1897 the skin and venereal wards. Eventually, ITSN provided nursing service for every ward of Cook County Hospital. Working so closely with one of the world's largest public hospitals, the Illinois Training School for Nurses attracted many prominent pioneers in nursing education. Superintendents of ITSN included Mary Brown and Edith Draper from New York's Bellevue Training School, Mary C. Wheeler, an early ITSN graduate, and Laura Logan, who helped establish the University of Cincinnati school of Nursing. Under the leadership of women like these, ITSN gradually added to its curriculum many special programs and pioneering innovations, including private nursing, a visiting nurses service, post-graduate and dieticians' programs, and affiliation with other nursing schools.

Private nursing was begun in April, 1883 as a service to the sick outside the hospital. Trained student nurses were dispatched to work full time in private homes, thus filling a genuine need within the community while simultaneously raising additional funds for the school.

Crerar nursing, begun in the fall of 1892 through a bequest of John Crerar, was a particularly important service in the years before the widespread activities of the Visiting Nurses Association. Crerar nurses, who were ITSN students, provided nursing care in the homes of low-income families who paid a minimal fee to the school. In this way, ITSN was able to provide a community service as it trained students. Private nursing and Crerar nursing were important public relations measures that helped create public support for a school which increasingly depended on contributions and bequests to purchase buildings and expand services and training.

In May, 1885, ITSN agreed to provide nurses for the Presbyterian Hospital. This service was interrupted in November for financial reasons but was resumed in 1888. It continued for fifteen years until 1903, when the increasing size of both Presbyterian and Cook County Hospitals made it impossible for ITSN to staff both facilities.

In 1895, ITSN began admitting a few post-graduate nurses. In 1920 a post-graduate course for dieticians was established, for which a college degree was a pre-requisite.

Affiliation was begun in 1905. This program allowed students from smaller schools to spend their final year of training at ITSN, working in the wards of Cook County Hospital and gaining a breadth of experience unavailable in smaller hospitals. Dixon Hospital, Brokaw Hospital of Bloomington, Passavant of Chicago, and the Moline Hospital were some of the early participants in the program.

With its many special programs and innovations in the field of nursing education, ITSN was long interested in improving education for nurses and elevating their professional status. The quality of education at ITSN was consistently upgraded over the years through the addition of more required medical and scientific coursework, a greater breadth of practical experience in the hospital wards, and an increase in the length of time required to receive the nursing certificate, from 24 months to 36 months.

In 1926, after much exploration of the issue, ITSN reached an agreement to merge its corporate identity with the University of Chicago (U of C). In return, U of C would later establish a nursing school which would award its graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree. ITSN continued to operate independently until 1929, when the merger took effect and ITSN ceased to exist. All ITSN property and assets reverted to the University of Chicago and ITSN contracts with the Cook County Commissioners were terminated.

The County Commissioners, who had relied almost entirely upon ITSN nurses to staff the Cook County Hospital, established its own training school to perform the same function. The County rented the former ITSN facilities from their new owner, the University of Chicago, hired the former ITSN faculty to staff the school, and allowed ITSN students to transfer with full credit to the Cook County School of Nursing (CCSN). Although CCSN appeared to be a continuation of ITSN, the Illinois Training School had actually ceased to exist as a corporate identity upon its legal merger with the University of Chicago. The name of the Illinois Training School for Nurses was to be perpetuated in a scholarship fund for the University of Chicago's School of Nursing.

Information from: Schryver, Grace Fay. A HISTORY OF THE ILLINOIS TRAINING SCHOOL FOR NURSES, 1880-1929. Chicago: Board of Directors of the Illinois Training School for Nurses, 1930.

The records of the Illinois Training School for Nurses (ITSN) document the history of the school from its inception in 1880 until well after it ceased operation. At the time of initial processing, following the University of Illinois at Chicago Special Collections Library's acquisition of these materials, the collection was divided into four series: Student Records, Administrative Records, Oversize Items, and Indexes.

The Student Records cover the period from 1881, when the school first opened, until 1929 when it closed. Records exist for regular pupil nurses, graduate dieticians, post-graduate nurses, and affiliate students. These records include application materials, correspondence, efficiency reports, grade books, intelligence tests, medical records, newspaper clippings, record books, transcripts, and various miscellaneous materials. There is also an extensive index to many of the materials in the Student Records. Information about the kind of material in the Student Records is included below. The records are varied and complicated enough that such instructions are essential to their efficient use. Information about how to use the indexes is included in the Detailed Description/Box and Folder Listing below.

The Administrative Records series consists of those materials not directly related to students and their class work. They include minutes of Board of Directors' meetings, brochures, by-laws, correspondence, faculty personnel files, financial and legal records, forms, publications, statistics, speeches, and other items. Materials documenting the operation of the school, its policies and practices, are abundant, including such details as the management and planning required to provide food and housing to the nursing students. Some of the correspondence provides a glimpse into how decisions were made about providing new types of service and training in such fields as social service, visiting nurses, occupational therapy, and university affiliation. A few documents pertaining to the school's financial and legal concerns are in the collection, as are two folders on the "Citizens Committee," which document the decision to merge ITSN with a university. Speeches given on the occasion of the merger are also in the collection. Many ITSN publications are available in this series. Besides a number -of brochures, fliers, and course catalogs, there are three student annuals or yearbooks. The alumnae association's newsletter, THE REPORT, is available in a nearly complete run from 1942 to 1980.

Photographs of alumnae association meetings in 1915 and 1924 are found in the Oversize Items series. Other photographs, mainly of Cook County Hospital Wards, are also listed with oversize items, as is a student nurse's uniform. The Oversize Items series also includes volumes of Matriculation Records and Pupil Nurses information. The Matriculation Records volumes are arranged according to matriculation number. This number can generally be obtained for individual students by consulting the "Illinois Training School" index. The "Key to Location Symbols" at the beginning of the index guide will help interpret the notation. Information contained in the Pupil Nurses volumes is about students' practical and theoretical records --e.g., the number of lecture hours attended on various topics and time spent on different hospital wards. Pupil Nurses volumes do not list students in alphabetical order. To find specific students' records in these volumes, one must consult the "Illinois Training School for Nurses" index. Reference to these volumes will be in the form "C1885", "C3", etc. Consult the "Key to Location Symbols" at the beginning of the index guide to interpret the notations in the index. Each Pupil Nurses volume has a corresponding folder of miscellaneous inserts (folders 513-519) which were removed from the volumes during cataloging.

Additionally, Indexes of students accompany the collection. The index, divided into several sections, was maintained in its original order, with original headings, and no attempt was made to correct errors, inconsistencies, and omissions in the indexes. The indexes are listed and explained in the Detailed Description/Box and Folder Listing below.

Aside from the materials in this collection about the school's history, there is also a book, The History of the Illinois Training School for Nurses, 1880-1929, published by the ITSN Board of Directors after the school closed. It recounts the entire history of the school from 1880 until 1929. The book includes an index of terms and personal names as well as lists of graduates, superintendents, and board members.

Related materials documenting the history and alumni of the Illinois Training School for Nurses is found in the Cook County School of Nursing Records.

The following restrictions apply to Student Records:

The University agrees that in making available to researchers using its manuscript collection any of the student records of the Illinois Training School for Nurses, it will advise such researchers that the names of the individuals with whom such records are concerned are to be held in strict confidence, that no notes of such names are to be made, and that such names will not be used by the researchers, nor will they be permitted to appear in any publication resulting from the research.

None, outside of regular reading room hours.

Illinois Training School for Nurses Records, Health Sciences Manuscripts, University of Illinois at Chicago, Library of the Health Sciences Special Collections, HS-15.

The records of the Illinois Training School for Nurses were donated to the Special Collections Department, the University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago in 1981 by Mrs. Florence Ward of Berwyn, Illinois (ACC. 81-65); in 1977 by the ITSN Alumnae Association (ACC. 77-40), and in 1975 by Martha Vanderwiken of Chicago (ACC. 75-86). These accessions were combined to form the Illinois Training School for Nurses Records.

This collection was processed by: Sandra Florand Young in May 1986. The finding aid was revised and marked up for web presentation in September 2008.

  • Names
    • Cook County Hospital (Chicago, Ill.).
    • Illinois Training School for Nurses.
    • Illinois Training School for Nurses. -- Archives
  • Subject
    • Chicago Health Sciences History.
    • Nurses--In-service training.
    • Nursing schools.
  • Geographic Coverage
    • Illinois--Chicago.
    • Illinois.