Get Me to the Nunnery!

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Tomorrow, I have a field trip planned to the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives, and I cannot wait!

Daughters of Charity Provincial Archive, Emmittsburg, Maryland. Source: DOCPA

Daughters of Charity Provincial Archive, Emmittsburg, Maryland. Source: DOCPA

Why is this such a big deal? Well, other than the fact I love Sisters — I grew up in fear and awe of them, in a good way — this is the order that built the first Catholic hospital in Florida, Pensacola Hospital (now Sacred Heart Hospital), in 1915.

Pensacola Hospital, 1915. Source: Pensapedia

Pensacola Hospital, 1915. Source: Pensapedia

Before this hospital was built, there were only small sanitaria and other clinics, and if you became seriously ill, and needed surgery, you had to go out of state for treatment (the closest large hospitals in Mobile or New Orleans). That wasn’t always an option for the everyday guy or gal.

Even Emmett’s own father, Dr. F. C. Wilson, escorted his son Frank to Tuoro Hospital in New Orleans in the early 1900s when he needed a liver operation — Dr. Wilson couldn’t do it, nor would other local physicians, for some reason. The information I have on this did not specify Frank’s liver ailment; but, I do know that it was a risky procedure, in any hospital at that time, and traveling there was even more dangerous in his condition.

Long story short: The nuns brought a high-quality hospital and medical care to Pensacola at a time when it was desperately needed.

The Daughters of Charity cared for EVERYONE, regardless of race, creed, or ability to pay. Their motto was and is, “Service to all.”

By the way, Pensacola Hospital is important in the book’s research: It is where Emmett died on May 29, 1918.

What I hope to see in the archive are photos of the wards, the Sisters nursing patients, the layout of the rooms, the kind of furniture and equipment used, and the like.

Also, I’m interested in the Sisters’ nursing practices with regard to alcoholics and alcoholism itself. These patients were generally treated in a psychiatric ward, unless they were wealthy and/or prominent, and could afford a private room.

I’ll be back with an update in a day or so.


 

Before I go, did you know that there is an Archivist’s Prayer? The prayer can be found on the Daughters of Charity’s page, written by one of their own, Sister Ann Courtney, at the link below.

An Archivists Prayer
Lord, let us remember that
The trailblazers of yesterday
Are our traditions today
Boxed and labeled and
cataloged
They leap from our shelves
Our forebears who fashioned
new stories to tell.
Their spirit escapes in new
patterns, new plans
Our web site of findings that
links and expands
To whatever the future is
wanting to give.
Lord, let your Spirit spur us
To tell the pulse of our work.
In our quest for the best.
Amen.
Written for the Archivists of Congregations of Women Religious by
Sister Ann Courtney, Sisters of Charity of New York
August, 1997

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