About Us

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2023 is the 145th anniversary of the BCHSON. Please celebrate with us at the Fall Luncheon on Saturday,  October 21 at the Quincy Marriott!

In 1878, 14 years after the opening of Boston City Hospital, the training school was established, primarily as a result of the efforts of Dr. Edward Cowles, the administrative head of the hospital. Dr. Cowles selected Linda Richards, born Melinda Ann Richards (July 27, 1841), first graduate of a nurse training school in the United States (New England Hospital for Women and Children, 1873) to head the school. Miss Richards had the responsibility of creating the first nurse training school affiliated and controlled by a municipal hospital in the U.S. In building the program, Miss Richards drew from her experiences at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London (the Nightengale School) and thereby incorporated Florence Nightengale’s philosophy of nursing. The priority in nursing was and still is, patient care. A capable and dedicated woman as history depicts her, Linda Richards set up the curriculum (originally a two-year program), organized the intense training program (6 graduates out of 64 matriculations) and established the high level standards for nurse training which prevail even now.

The first program was not sophisticated but clearly reflected a higher level of instruction than had ever been prevalent. Originally students paid no tuition but exchanged hospital service for educational costs. A negligible sum ($10.00 per mo. 1st yr., $14.00 per mo. 2nd yr.) was paid to students for clothing and personal expenses.

Lucy Drown, graduated in 1884 from the school, succeeded Linda Richards as Superintendent and remained until 1910. Under her direction the school trebled in size and in 1908 the program was expanded to 3 years. President of both the BCH Nurses Club and the Alumnae Association (1896) and Treasurer for 6 years of the American Society of Superintendents of Training School for Nurses, Miss Drown was active within the school and the profession. A nurse’s residence at 717 Massachusetts Avenue, since demolished, was named after Lucy Drown.

The history of the school is filled with names of famous nurses, among them: Mary Riddle, author of BCH Training School for Nurses, Historical Sketch, 1878-1928, President of the BCH Alumnae Association and together with Lucy Drown, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Anna C. Maxwell, class of 1880, President of MNA, Superintendent of MGH Training School for Nurses, and Collaborator in production of nursing texts. Marion G. Parsons, class of 1910, decorated with the Royal British red Cross by king George at Buckingham Palace for service in W.W.I., established a training school in Prague, Czechoslovakia and was an instructor at BCH. Dorothy Morse, class of 1939, who died while serving on a ship torpedoed off the coast of Iceland in 1940. Frances Slanger, class of 1937, a Lieutenant in the Army, who was killed while serving with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in Belgium, the first nurse fatality in W.W.II. Laura Govoni, co-author to one of the most popular nursing texts today, Drugs and Nursing Implications; and a host of other prominent alumna too numerous to be recapitulated here.

The School of Nursing at BCH has been great and has achieved prominence in the profession. The quote from Dr. Rowe made in the early 1900s is as appropriate today as it was then…”One of the greatest achievements of the Boston City Hospital is its output of nurses,” and this is due to a fine faculty and great leaders, most notably Margaret Welch and Mary Moran.

The official vote to close the school was made by the Board of Trustees on the eve of Tuesday, May 27, 1975, marking the end of a great school.

Compiled by Jane M. Lopes, Librarian, BCH School of Nursing, June 1975