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Centennial Photo Display: 1930's

Alethea Drexler
archives assistant
Pendleton & Arto, Inc. medical supplies, January 1930
Houston’s Medical Arts Building (1926-1980’s) housed physicians’ and dentists’ offices, and related businesses such as this medical supplier.
1930-01jan-1-detail“Vivian Maddox, medical records librarian, and hospital ‘sweetheart’.” (undated, circa 1938)
IC 086 Hermann Hospital archives P-box 2 folder 6
Hermann Hospital apparently kept a pair of pet burros in the yard behind the hospital. The screened porches on the back of the nurses’ dormitory are in the background.
IC086 P-box2 F6 Vivian Maddox med rec lib and burro 600dpi JPG
1936 Hermann Hospital School of Nursing graduating class
IC 086 Hermann Hospital archives
1936 HermannSchNursing 600dpi JPG

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The following pictures are from a sizable collection of images of Memorial Hospital, from the 1930’s and early 1940’s.  Most of the information about them comes from notations included with the photographs.
Memorial Hospital from the air, circa 1928-1938
McGovern Historical Collections P-467
Memorial as it appeared through most of the 1930’s. The building had been expanded several times already in the 1910’s and 1920’s, and would be enlarged again in the early 1940’s. [1]
The large light-colored building in the upper left is the Phenix Dairy, established in 1914 and once a major distributor in the South. This area is near the Julia Ideson building of the Houston Public Library, but is otherwise all skyscrapers now.
[1] Memorial Healthcare System, Handbook of Texas online.
P-467 Memorial 1928-1938 600dpi JPG
Memorial Hospital from the air, circa 1940
McGovern Historical Collections P-466
Note how much the area has changed:
The big Victorian house in the lower left is gone, replaced by a Mission-style building and Carl McMillian’s Ford dealership. There is a new gas station across the street.
The Neoclassical building and Queen Anne house on the block to the left have been replaced by a modern office building, and there are two pharmacies, the L&L and the Continental, within a block of the hospital.
P-466 Memorial 1940 aerial 600dpi JPG
Christmas Eve at the Memorial Hospital children’s home, 1937
McGovern Historical Collections image P-487
The nurse at left, sitting on the gurney, was also an attendant in the baby respirator demonstration.
The “little white cottage” was the former nurses’ dormitory and was located behind the main hospital building, which is visible in the background.
1937-p-487 Memorial Hospital Christmas Eve 1937
1936 Oldsmobile ambulance, Memorial Hospital
IC 086 Hermann Hospital archives P-box 2 folder 8
Until the 1950’s, civilian ambulances were used primarily to transport patients, not to treat them en route, so car-type models similar to hearses (many cars served as both) were standard. The taller, van- or truck-based ambulance that could carry more equipment and allowed more room for emergency personnel to work replaced the sedan-delivery in the 1970’s. [2]
[2] EMT Resources.
[3] Fire History.
1936 IC086 Folder 8 Memorial Hospital Oldsmobile ambulance 600dpi edit JPG
Flash board, 1930’s
McGovern Historical Collections P-549
Memorial Hospital “staff flash board, for coming in and out”. Mr. and Mrs. Jolly’s indicators are at the upper left.

P-549 Memorial call board 600dpi JPG

Lillie Jolly and nursing supervisors, 1936
McGovern Historical Collections P-439
Lillian “Lillie” Wilson Jolly was a graduate of the Kentucky School of Medicine School of Nursing and arrived in Houston in the first decade of the twentieth century. She became Memorial Hospital’s—then Baptist Sanitarium—Superintendent of Nurses in 1912 and spent the next 35 years building the school of nursing into a first-class establishment. The school was renamed for her in 1945. [4]
Thelma Parry, seated at left, appears in both the baby respirator and children’s home pictures.
[4] Ted Francis and Carole McFarland, The Memorial Hospital System: The first seventy-five years, Larksdale, Houston, 1982. Page 63-64.
P-439 Lillie Jolly and nurses 1936 600dpi JPG
Nursing station, 1930’s
A hallway and small nursing station in Memorial Hospital’s maternity ward.
Nursing Station II 300dpi
Maternity ward nurses, 1930’s
McGovern Historical Collections P-520
A posed photograph but a nice one, complete with a newly-minted Houstonian.
1930s P-520 memorial Nurses 1930s 600dpi JPG
Maternity ward room, 1936
McGovern Historical Collections P-439
Newly-furnished, home-like, room in Memorial’s maternity ward.
P-451 Memorial maternity room 1936 600dpi JPG
Baby respirator, Memorial Hospital.
McGovern Historical Collections image P-546

“1932. This infant respirator has already saved the lives of a dozen newborn babies. It is the only machine of its kind in the South. Called the Iron Lung because it compels breathing, preventing babies from being asphyxiated. Another friend donated a large Iron Lung for children and adults after seeing this machine.”

This type of iron lung is called a Drinker respirator after one of its developers. Iron lungs work by alternating negative and positive pressure within their sealed body chambers—the negative pressure creates a vacuum around the patient that expands the chest cavity, compelling inhalation, and then a cycle of positive pressure compels exhalation. Negative-pressure ventilators of this type only came into use in the late 1920’s, so the acquisition of this in 1931 was quite a coup. At the time, it was one of only 36 in all of the United States and Canada. Hospital administrators publicized the new baby respirator to spur fundraising for an adult-sized one.
The donor, J.W. Neal, was a Maxwell House Coffee distributor, banker, and philanthropist. His papers are held by the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. [5]
[5] Ted Francis and Carole McFarland, The Memorial Hospital System: The first seventy-five years, Larksdale, Houston, 1982. Page 48.
[6] National Museum of American History online.
1932-P546-memorial-baby-respirator edit
Iron lung, Memorial Hospital, 1937
McGovern Historical Collections P-547
This is an Emerson (John Haven Emerson, 1906-1991) iron lung, an improvement on the Drinker design. It seems to have been Memorial’s second adult-sized iron lung; the first one was a Drinker model donated in 1931 shortly after the gift of the baby respirator. The slide-out bed and portals in the side that allowed nurses to attend to patients without removing them from the lung were Emerson innovations.
Iron lungs were expensive—this one would have cost around a thousand dollars, and the earlier Drinker model almost twice that—and still relatively rare in the 1930’s. Note that this one was also funded through public donations. [6]
[6] National Museum of American History online.
1937-P547-memorial-iron-lung-a 1937-P547-memorial-iron-lung-b
Hydrotherapy bath, 1937
McGovern Historical Collections P-243
Public donations also purchased this Hubbard tank. The tank’s shape, with its narrow “waist”, allowed attendants to work with the patient without removing him or her from the bath. The water in this was likely heated and agitators provided a gentle “massage”. This is probably being used to treat a joint disorder such as juvenile arthritis. [7]
The man at the far right appears to be Robert Jolly, superintendent of Memorial Hospital and husband of Lillie Jolly of nursing fame. [10]
[7] Free Dictionary online.
[8] Merriam-Webster online.
[9] WebMD.
[10] Ted Francis and Carole McFarland, The Memorial Hospital System: The first seventy-five years, Larksdale, Houston, 1982. Page 63-64.
P-243 Memorial hydrotheraphy bath 1937 600dpit JPG
“Fever cabinet”, 1930’s
McGovern Historical Collections P-548
This apparatus is a “fever cabinet”, used to raise a patient’s body temperature for therapeutic purposes. Induced fevers were used to treat several conditions, including some infections and forms of arthritis. A related picture shows this machine being used on a child, so it, along with the Hubbard tank, may have been part of an effort to treat a childhood joint ailment by increasing circulation.[11]
[11] Merriam-Webster online
[12] Wikipedia – Pyrotherapy
P-548 Memorial fever cabinet 1930s 600dpi JPG edit
Tissue Laboratory, 1930’s
McGovern Historical Collections P-550
Memorial’s tissue laboratory. The white appliance in the left foreground is a centrifuge and the cabinets to the left of the “tissue room” door may be incubators.
P-550 Memorial tissue lab 1930s 600dpi JPG edit
Radiology department, 1930’s
McGovern Historical Collections P-564a and P-564b
Memorial Hospital’s x-ray equipment.
P-564a Memorial radiology 1930s 600dpi JPG P-564b Memorial radiology 1930s 600dpi jpg
Radiology department, 1930’s
McGovern Historical Collections P-551b
Radiograph viewer in Memorial Hospital’s radiology department. The images in the upper row are of a kidney and ureters, apparently enhanced by an intravenously-administered iodine contrast medium, which would have been a new concept in the 1930’s. The lower row may be a barium series of the gastrointestinal tract. The use of barium sulfate contrast medium was introduced in 1904. [13]
Radiology was often referred to as “roentgenology” until the mid-twentieth century, for x-ray pioneer Wilhelm Röntgen.
[13] Norman Williams, Christopher Bulstroned, and P. Ronan O’Connell, eds., Bailey and Love’s Short Practice of Surgery, 26th ed., CRC Press, 2013, page 1274.
[14] British Society for the History of Radiology online.
P-551b Memorial x-ray viewing box 1930s 600dpi JPG