poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘nursing

a stack of post cards

with 6 comments

Saturday, for me, is genealogy day.  I am interested in the history of my family and I have a lot of boxes of information to sort through.  If I don’t spend a dedicated time to the study of the items in those boxes, the work will never get done.  And, I want to try and get my value from the small fee I pay each month to .


Over the last few Saturdays, I have been studying a small stack of post cards sent to my grandmother (Katie Clark) from 1906 to 1910.  There are 174 post cards in the collection.  The post cards are one record of her travels to the United States where she was studying to become a nurse.




Born in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia in 1890, Katie Clark was raised on a farm with her brother and four sisters.  When she graduated from High School, she went to Boston to become a nurse.  She was joining her sister Anne who had started her nursing program there the year before.



Katie Clark in her nursing uniform


Katie Clark, my grandmother


Travel from the Maritimes to Boston and other cities along the Eastern Seaboard was common in the early 1900s and was usually by train.  Nursing was a relatively new type of professional work for women and men.  Professional nursing had been established in the 1860s largely as a result of the efforts of Florence Nightingale and others.  By the turn of the century, many nursing schools were established in both the United States and Canada.


Katie went to school in Newton Lower Falls, on the outskirts of Boston.  She studied with two of her sisters (Anne and Laura) and a small group of women and men who became her friends. Katie’s photos show sliding parties and sports activities.



Photos of winter sledding in Newton Lower Falls from Katie’s photo album (Katie is third from the right in the lower, right photo)



Photo from Katie’s album of the school’s women’s basketball team (Katie is fifth from the right in the top row; her sister Anne is second from the right in the seated second row from the front)


Post cards were one way friends and families could stay in touch.  The post cards show that cards were mailed even within the same community and sometimes at the rate of two or three a day.  The messages on Katie’s post cards often mention getting or sending letters and often ask Katie to send a post card, soon.


The post cards are mostly scenic in theme.  There are also a large number of comedic post cards …



The card on the left pokes fun at Mother-in-laws (1910) ; the post card on the right is one of many scenic views, this one of the ‘flower pot’ formations near Alma, New Brunswick (1907).


There are also post cards with seasonal themes, for Christmas, Easter, New Years Day and Valentines Day …



One of Katie’s post cards with a Christmas theme (1907)


A few of the post cards are blank, without stamp, post mark, address or message.  Perhaps these were delivered to Katie in person as a contribution towards her post card collection.  Sometimes the address is the only handwriting on the card.  Usually, however, the sender included a brief message to Katie, written in a special space on the back of the card.  In some cases the message was written upside-down, or in various blank spaces on both front and back of the card.



A post card with a New Year’s message (1909)



The back of the New Year’s post card with a message and a stamp affixed upside-down ! (1909)



The information on these cards goes beyond the written message.  The cards are a record of where Katie was living at various times during the five year period.  The post marks and an occasional return address indicate where Katie’s friends were living.  The messages contain common expressions of the times.  The post card themes tell what subjects interested people and the comedic cards show what people thought funny.  And the stamps on the cards are a study of their own.


In future posts, I’ll have a look at some of the information contained in my grandmother’s stack of post cards.


Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 9, 2015 at 7:42 am

from the pages of an old diary – illness in the community

with 4 comments

In her diaries, my great-aunt wrote about her own health, as well as the health of others.  She was a nurse, trained at McLean Hospital in Boston, so her interest in health is not surprising.  Her diary entries are filled with her visits to the sick.  She often brought either ginger ale or ice cream with her when she visited, and these must have soothed many a sore throat and helped to get needed fluids into the ill person.

In May of 1955, a flu went through the community.  Through the diary entries, you can follow as different people become ill.  On May 6, 1955, my great-aunt came down with the flu, probably contracted as she visted the sick.  She was in bed for eleven days.  In those days, the doctor made house calls and he came twice to see her.



flu in the community – 1955

                -response to a diary entry for May 16, 1955 and entries for the previous two weeks


 Mon cloudy cold.  Katie M.

came in P.M. brought ice-cream [and] gin [ginger] ale. 

I am feeling better.  I cleaned up-stairs

some.  R.C. called too at noon.   

                                 –          A.M.W.




visited Jesse


took Madge ginger ale


took Mrs. B. ice-cream

combed her hair, made her bed


should stay away

but ginger is good for what ails you

and ice-cream soothes the throat


I’m a trained nurse

it’s expected




chills, fever 103

Doctor saw me twice



nine days, in bed

I hear comings and goings downstairs

most won’t come up, or stay

afraid of flu




better today, out of bed

puttered around upstairs

Katie came

brought me ice-cream and ginger ale

a little gossip


remedies for the flu



©  Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

February 29, 2012 at 7:08 am

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