Posted on May 6th, 2015 by Rachel
Today is National Nurses Day and in appreciation we are sharing a “sneak peek” from our exhibit-in-progress Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America from our section on nursing. Enjoy these snippets from the unfinished exhibit script – and thank a nurse today!
Gift of Bobbi Horwitz for the Sinai Hospital Nurses Alumni Association, JMM 2010.20.8
The Nursing Station
The first formal training program for nurses in the United States was initiated in 1872 at the Women’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Spurred by committees of laywomen, several other hospitals soon followed suit. Physicians, however, were slow to support the training of women to assist in medical procedures.
As medical technology advanced, however, hospital administrators realized how the in-house nurse training program benefited the hospital. Educated nurses were urgently needed to aid in the care and treatment of patients with increasingly more complex conditions and needs. Nursing students, who often worked and lived under harsh conditions, were willing to trade their labor for professional training. By 1900, 432 nurse-training programs had been established in hospitals around the country.
1909 photo of graduating class. Gift of Bobbie Horwitz for the Sinai Hospital Nurses Alumni Association, JMM 2010.20.47.
By 1919, the Hebrew Hospital had built the Hecht Memorial Nurses Home, where nurses lived and studied. Trainees were required to furnish their own uniforms and expected to work regular shifts in the hospital, described in the school prospectus as the students’ “laboratory.” In return, they were given room and board, and were paid $10.00 per month (equivalent to approximately $135.00 today). A rigorous schedule of coursework in medical sciences and clinical practice are also set forth in the brochure.
Nursing and the Jewish Woman
Jewish women did not flock to nursing as Jewish men did to the medical, dental and pharmacy professions. There are no solid numbers to bear out the anecdotal evidence, but where Jewish physicians have been over-represented as a proportion of the United States population, Jews have historically been under-represented as a percentage of nurses. As a result, while Jewish hospitals filled a need for Jewish nurses, but they were never staffed solely by Jews.
“An Angel of Mercy,” Hal Hurst. C. 1914-1918, Michael Zwerdling “Postcards of nursing” collection, National Library of Medicine.
Why were there fewer Jewish nurses, proportionally? The Christian narrative underpinning the nursing profession may have discouraged some. According to the National Library of Medicine: “Images of nurses in the European art traditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries are often based on ancient Classical and Christian feminine archetypes such as healer, handmaiden, mother, angel, and guardian or warrior.” But many among those who proudly serve see Jewish roots to their profession.
“I cannot count the number of times I have been told that I am a fine example of Christian nursing. It is always meant as a compliment, but it drives me to distraction.” (From an interview with a Jewish nurse)
Posted on May 5th, 2015 by Rachel
The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email email@example.com
Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: August 29, 2014
PastPerfect Accession #: 2002.107.061
Status: Unidentified – do you know anyone in this Golden Age dancing class from March 1957?
Posted on May 4th, 2015 by Rachel
I can still remember the odd feeling in 1968 watching the split screen of the events inside and outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago. I was 16 at the time. The events on TV were made a bit stranger since a few of my friends and relatives were in the streets that day (just 12 miles from my home) being tear-gassed and beaten while I was under my mother’s orders not to leave the house.
All those feelings from 1968 came back to me as I sat helplessly in my hotel room at the AAM museum conference in Atlanta watching parts of my adopted city burn. The conference theme was “the social value of museums inspiring change” – all I could think was “we have a lot of work ahead.”
I am writing this blog post about what was on “the other half of my screen” – the half that was doing my darndest to focus on ideas that might be useful to either adopt, adapt or avoid at JMM.
In conjunction with the conference I had a chance to visit four Atlanta museums I had not seen before and revisit the Atlanta History Center. Let me share a few personal observations about these five institutions.
- This was my second trip to the Atlanta History Center which is undergoing a major renovation. But their “unique” Civil War exhibit is still open to the public – if you want to know the Confederacy’s “strategy to win the war in 1865”, this is definitely the place to come. It also offered a fabulous dessert bar as part of a progressive dinner (sorry, no picture) – I lost that battle too! But here is a photo of me with a 1929 Hudson Super Six Sedan that made me feel like I was on the set of Downton Abbey – the grounds of the History Center are among the most beautiful settings for a museum that I’ve ever seen.
1929 Hudson Super Six Sedan
- The William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum. The museum has five major spaces on the ground floor (as well as quite a large surface parking lot). Two spaces are for performance/activities: a small theater and a much larger auditorium (The Selig Center) which appears to be a shared use space with Atlanta’s Jewish Federation. There is a permanent Holocaust gallery – heavily photo based; a temporary exhibit gallery (about the size of ours – currently featuring a tribute to Maurice Sendak); and a core exhibit, organized as a chronological journey through major artifacts from the collection. I found the most interesting part of this gallery was the invitation at its end for visitor’s to offer their ideas of “missing topics” … I’ll be interested in finding out what kind of response rate they are getting to this offer.
What stories did we miss?
- The Center for Puppetry Arts is located directly across the street from the Breman Museum. My sense is that this makes a great combination for attracting both family audiences and school groups – that can easily see both museums in the same day. Puppetry Arts (an inspiration of the Henson family kids) is in the midst of a significant expansion. For now, I was most impressed with the diversity of artifacts on display representing everything from Balinese shadow puppets to Julie Taymor’s Lion King costumes to Pigs in Space. Label copy and curatorial work is rather homespun but it is a space with lots of potential.
- Georgia Aquarium has an incredible array of animals and environments. Each tank is so full of biodiversity that it seems to scream – “you will never figure out everything that’s here.” The space makes use of lots of artificial environments and even fantasy to stimulate popular interest. It is bright, bold and perhaps a bit corporate.
- College Football Hall of Fame – Atlanta’s newest attraction – makes the Aquarium seem sedate. There is absolutely no line here between corporate sponsorship, product placement and exhibit content… even the logo has ad type in it. Your first on-screen guide in the exhibit is the cow from the Chick-fil-a ad campaign. The flashing screens and interactives are numerous and overlapping. The signature technology is a badge you are given that “personalizes” your visit by recognizing your favorite college team and customizing the interactives to match the colors, mascot, song etc. of your alma mater (more exciting I think for someone who went to Michigan than to Brandeis). And perhaps the bottom line is that this is a museum for people who would normally not be caught dead in a museum – and that may be an astute assessment of the market.
College Football Hall of Fame
Speaking of technology – a lot of what’s new in the museum world can be found on the Museum Expo floor. It is always fun trying out the latest gadgets. Above you see me as a newbie to Google Glass. The demonstration was designed to show that you could add a layer of content to a piece of art or old photograph on a very cool display. My personal impression – the best part was being able to say “look at me wearing this great piece of technology”. The content was underwhelming and who really thinks they want to have content sitting in their field of view – between you and the historic object. Most of us want to get closer to something authentic, not have a layer that pushes us away.
My assessment of this very heavy set of immersive virtual reality glasses is not much better. The content in this case was a first person perspective of Rosa Parks on the bus – as the bus driver and then a policeman get in your face. The glasses allow you to look at the people behind you when you are being accosted – not sure that this is an “enhancement”. Like the Google Glass these units are also a significant problem to maintain, as (for hygiene reasons) they need to be cleaned after every use.
But I don’t want you to think I am a complete Luddite. There were two more modest pieces of hardware/software that really got me thinking. The first were small display cases with thin LED projection surfaces on the front. This case would allow you to “animate” the label copy superimposed on an object in a protected case. No special glasses required and the price of the case is very competitive with other types of protective structures. Two companies had prototypes on display.
The most impressive technology I saw was this simple (and almost free) telepresence system: http://www.venturerobotics.com/
Look at this for a moment and think of what it might mean for providing visitors access to spaces with physical barriers like the Lloyd Street Synagogue or environments with security concerns like vault space or access for global visitors. Definitely going to begin a conversation here. The expo provided proof, if any was needed, that the value of a gizmo is not to be found in its sleekness, complexity or price tag but rather the quality of the thought process about how it will be used.
By now you may be wondering – did you just spend your time visiting museums, touring technologies and making new contacts for JMM. Well mostly… but I did spend some time at panels and in sessions that inspired fresh thinking about our work at JMM. Especially useful were sessions on marketing, membership and recent psychographic studies of museum visitors’ interests. I also attended a session entitled “Missouri Burning” about the response of the Missouri State Historical Society in St. Louis to the events in neighboring Ferguson. If I had to describe this conference in one word – I think I would pick “timely.”
It was a week I needed some perspective and AAM gave me a full year’s supply.
A blog post by Museum Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts from Marvin click HERE.