Dorothy Blanche Smith (seated, far left), who went by Blanche, was a nurse in Saranac Lake in the early 1900s. Her mother, Mary Ellen Colon, was also a nurse, and her father, Charles H. Smith, worked as a guide.
We do not know a lot of information about Blanche, including where she studied. Do you know anything about Blanche, or recognize these nursing uniforms? Let us know!
[Photograph of a group of nurses, Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2009.2.1. Gift of W. Dean Carrier.]
Betty Kelly (later Gaffney) was training as a nurse at Bellevue when she contracted tuberculosis. She was sent to Trudeau Sanatorium in 1947, first staying at Ludington Infirmary and then at Schiff Cottage. She left in 1949; she suffered a relapse and was treated with a lobectomy and thoracoplasty at home and recovered. Once she had fully regained her health, she went on to serve as a school nurse until she retired at age 84.
We are sad to share that Betty passed away in January of this year. We were honored to meet her when she came to visit the Sanatorium campus in August of 2021--the first time in 72 years. We are so happy to have met her and heard her story. Betty and her family donated photographs and her nursing cape and hat to the collection so that we can continue to share her memory. Betty's cap from Bellevue is one of the nursing artifacts on display this week in honor of nurses throughout Saranac Lake history.
Learn more about Betty on our wiki.
[Photograph of Betty Kelly on the steps of Baker Chapel, c. 1947. Photograph of Betty Gaffney standing in front of Baker Chapel, August 2021. Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2022.9.6. Gift in memory of Betty Kelly Gaffney.]
Mary Burgess, the "first cottage nurse," was just a few months shy of completing her nursing training in Michigan when she became ill. She eventually came to the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium [later Trudeau Sanatorium] in October of 1899, at her doctor's insistence. Burgess didn't want to come to Saranac Lake in the first place, but ended up calling it a "blessing in disguise."
Once Burgess was well enough, she began providing nursing care to "slightly indisposed" patients in the cottages at the San. In an article in the 1925 edition of Journal of the Outdoor Life dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Trudeau Sanatorium, Mary wrote, "Among the patients, at least during my residence, there was a wonderful spirit of good cheer which would do anybody's heart good. This combined with the careful supervision of all in authority, and as a background the bracing air of the pine-scented Adirondacks, the scenery and the sunsets--well! Patients just must get well at Trudeau."
Burgess later owned a cure cottage on Park Avenue. Learn more about her on our wiki.
More nursing history is coming all week long!
The D. Ogden Mills Training School for Nurses at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium [later Trudeau Sanatorium] was the beginning of a career in nursing for many women. The school opened in 1912, and trained classes of former tuberculosis patients to be nurses. This photograph shows Frances Higgins (fourth from left) and her classmates three months into their program, after receiving their caps. Frances and her fellow nurses graduated in 1926, and she went on to a lifelong career in nursing.
Learn more about the Mills Training School for Nurses on our wiki.
Stay tuned for more on the history of nursing in Saranac Lake all week!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2022.8.1. Gift in Memory of Frances Higgins.]
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