1913 Philadelphia School for Nurses Advertisement

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, July 17, 1913: Nothing doing.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was feeling down about something during mid-July, 1913. She graduated from high school the previous spring. Yesterday, I wondered if she was sad because she’d been unsuccessful in getting a teaching job for the upcoming school year.

There weren’t many careers open to women back then. Nursing was another field that was open to women. Did Grandma ever consider becoming a nurse?

24 Responses

  1. I wonder too :)

  2. Did she ever speak to you of her dreams as a young woman? It always amazes me of how she was a woman of so few words! Me? My journal entries are pages long!! I write like I talk – :)

    • As far as I know she never talked about her dreams as a young woman. It’s almost like her life was divided into several different stages–and she didn’t talk much about previous stages. She married a farmer when she was 26 and was a farm wife and mother.

      • That seems to be part of that generation, my mom and dad were the same way. Even my grandmother who loved to tell stories only told a select few and that only after we kept after her to know more about her life.

  3. Nursing was incredible hard work and usual you had to leave home and work/study/live in the hospital. Was there a hospital close to her home?

    • There was a hospital about 10 miles from where she lived in Lewisburg. A hundred years ago I think that it was quite small. It still exists, but is in a different location and is much larger.

  4. ps I used to be a nurse myself in the eighties and early nineties: how happy I was not havig to wear those silly hats;0)

    • I had a friend who graduated from nursing school in the 70s. She had to wear one of those hats for the graduation ceremony, but I think that was the last (and only) time that she ever wore it.

  5. What is settlement work, I wonder?

  6. Poor Helena. Seems maybe the transition from child to adult may not have been a smooth one.

  7. My grandfather grew up with that understand and asked me when I graduated high school (1973) if I was going to go to college for teaching or nursing. But that was the world he had lived in up to that point. I like what Flora above said about nursing being such hard work and how it was all-consuming. So true.

  8. I do hope that Helena finds something that will make her happy.

    • Even though I can tell that it was a difficult summer for her, I enjoy being able to see what she was thinking via the diary entries.

  9. I love the whole idea about your blog. Thanks for sharing with us! :-)

    • Thanks for taking a moment to write the note. I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and It’s always wonderful to hear when someone enjoys it.

  10. This picture reminds me of my mother-in-law, dressed in her nurses uniform. Times have certainly changed from those starched whites. I can’t believe they offered a home study course.

    • My thoughts exactly. Back then nursing must not have been nearly as professionalized. I think that many nurses back then went into private duty nursing and often cared for “convalescents and invalids” in their homes.

  11. Hi. I know from my own family that nursing was a very popular way for a woman to get both educated and a way to support herself. My grandmother went to nursing school in Boston in the 1910s. Jane

  12. […] Two days ago I described how Grandma rolled the fields in preparation for planting fall wheat. And, yesterday I shared pictures that showed the huge “modern” equipment used to harvest wheat on immense […]

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