by Sandra Yates
Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
The McGovern Historical Center has three finding aids available related to the Memorial Hospital System, one of the earliest hospitals in Houston. Founded in 1907 as the Baptist Sanitarium, Memorial Hospital began as a two-story, wood-framed building at the end of the trolley line on Lamar and Smith. It had 17 beds and eight trained nurses on staff. It was the second general hospital established in Houston after St. Joseph Hospital which opened in 1887. It was also the second Baptist-supported hospital in the United States. The other was the Missouri Baptist Sanitarium in St. Louis. The Baptist Sanitarium Training School for Nurses was the first chartered nursing school in the city, graduating its first class in 1909. Graduates from the school received a Registered Nurse certificate as well as a Sunday School Teacher certificate. All three collections are rich with historical materials from the nursing school, depicting students, staff, and activities.
MS 181 Leta Denham, RN papers, 1918-1920
IC 022 Memorial Hospital System records, 1907-1997
IC 103 Memorial Hospital Photograph Collection, 1903-1976
Leta Denham, RN papers (MS181) is a small collection that includes photographs, nursing certificates and artifacts as well as a yearbook. Leta Denham was a student at the Baptist Sanitarium and Hospital Training School for Nurses, graduating in 1919. She served as a medical missionary in Yingtak, China from 1921 to 1922.
Memorial Hospital System records (IC022) has many scrapbooks and photographs chronicling its long and proud history. The collection includes a photograph album from 1918 with amazing images of nursing students. The album overlaps with Leta Denham’s time at the nursing school (see the 1918 images below).
Memorial Hospital Photograph Collection (IC103) has over 4000 photographs that date from 1903 to 1976. The photographs depict the staff, physicians, personnel, departments, nursing school students, faculty and Lillie Jolly (director), facilities and building construction of the Memorial Hospital System. There is a small collection of 31 photographs from Lela Smith Hickey, who graduated from the nursing school in 1933. The photographs are of nursing students, staff, and physicians at Memorial Hospital in 1932 (See the 1932 images below).
It’s fun to compare the photographs from 1918 and 1932. The similarities are amazing! Through the years, the roof of the hospital remained a place for relaxing, having fun, and enjoying the view of downtown Houston.