The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing was founded in 1889 by the leading ladies of Cincinnati and was the first college to offer a bachelor's degree in nursing.
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Orange Frazer Press
Orange Frazer Press
The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing celebrates 125 years with an anniversary edition showcasing its legacy in anecdotes, history, photos, and more.
Chapter 1: 1889–1899, Creating a School
In the late 1880s, the state of health care in Cincinnati was a paradox. On the one hand, the city, the densest in the United States with a population of approximately 300,000 people, was blessed with five hospitals — thanks to medical pioneers like Drs. Daniel Drake and Christian Holmes. One of the five was the very first Jewish Hospital in the United States, formed in response to the cholera epidemic of the 1840s.
On the other hand, however, working side by side with those doctors were untrained nurses and even family members, helping to care for the patients. As a result, patient care and outcomes were inconsistent. In fact, some sources blame the spread of the cholera on those untrained nurses as they went from house to house, comforting the ill and assisting their families.
Although Cincinnati had five hospitals, conditions in the hospitals were not very sanitary. In fact, the wealthy were usually treated at home until their needs demanded care more sophisticated or technical than home visits could accomplish. Those people of the middle class held off going until they were near death, thus the hospitals were associated with dying. And the diseases that were being treated there were often incurable: tuberculosis, syphilis, infantile blindness from maternal gonorrhea — in addition to the aforementioned cholera epidemics.
In response to this situation, at the urging of Dr. Mary Osborne, seven women met with her in the fall of 1888: Mrs. William Howard (“Nellie”) Taft, Miss Annie Laws, Mrs. John A. (Laura) Gano, Miss Mary Eva Keys, Mrs. R.M.W. Taylor, Mrs. Fredrick Huntington, and Miss Sarah H. Woolley. (Sarah Woolley’s sister, Mrs. H. Q. Cleneay, became one of the “Patronesses” of the Society.) These women formed the nucleus of the Society of the Training School for Nurses. They proposed to create a school to train middle-class women in nursing skills.