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Records of the Committee on the Directory for Nurses

Identifier: CPP 10/001-01

Scope and Contents

This collection of records of the Committee on the Directory for Nurses of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, spanning 1881 to 1936, consists of correspondence, annual reports, financial records, committee reports and recommendations, and miscellaneous material. The correspondence traces the establishment of the directory and documents several controversies, including the 1882 case of S. H. Pine (a janitor living in the College who refused to vacate his quarters without financial compensation), and the 1900 protest against the Philadelphia Nurse Supply Association, an establishment that was certifying unqualified nurses. Other controversies include the 1921 case of Mirian G. Reber, a nurse who had "trouble with the Directory for Nurses'', and the controversy between the Committee on the Directory for Nurses and the Hall Committee concerning the use of one of the rooms in the College. Correspondents include William W. Keen, Wharton Sinkler, Thomas G. Ashton, and Frederick Fraley, all of whom served as chairmen of the Committee on the Directory for Nurses.

The committee reports and recommendations in the collection document the official College policies concerning the establishment and eventual discontinuation of the Directory for Nurses. Also of note are some of the miscellaneous items, including samples of nurse registration and report forms (from the 1880s), the text of an address delivered by William J. Taylor on the 50th anniversary of the directory, and a typescript of Frederick Fraley's article on the history of the Directory for Nurses which appeared in Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia 1n 1936.

Also included in the miscellaneous material are two documents relating to the 1918 influenza epidemic. One of these items reveals that during a one month period, the directory received 2,955 calls for nurses, out of which only 197 were filled. Also of special interest are two pages of S. Weir Mitchell's holograph notes relating to the establishment of a nurses directory. These notes were probably written in response to a letter[s] from Edwin H. Brigham, the registrar of the Directory for Nurses of the Boston Medical Library Association, who had provided Mitchell with information about the workings of the Boston directory.


  • 1881 - 1936


Biographical / Historical

The Directory for Nurses of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was founded on 14 May 1882. This referral service allowed doctors and patients to employ qualified nurses in a quick and efficient manner. S,_ Weir Mitchell and William W. Keen were instrumental in the creation of the directory. At their prompting, on 1 March 1882, the College appointed~ committee to oversee the establishment of a nurses directory. Mitchell, Keen, and Albert H. Smith were elected to serve on the committee, and a Ladies' Advisory Committee was formed to assist them.

The Ladies' Committee, led by Mrs. S. Weir Mitchell, solicited Sl,000 in pledges to meet the initial expenses of the directory. Additional funds were derived from nurse registration fees and the fees of individuals using the referral service. All proceeds were donated to the College Library. The directory was enormously successful and quite lucrative; from 1882 to 1936 over 7,500 nurses were registered, and more than 150,000 calls were filled.

Over the years, the directories of other hospitals and agencies created competition for the Directory for Nurses of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In addition, the earnings of the directory jeopardized the non-profit, tax-exempt status of the College. On 23 April 1935, the Collncil of U-ie College elected to form a committee to investigllte the finances of the Directory for Nurses and recommend whether or not it should be continued. After consulting with the College's legal counsel, the committee recommended that the directory be liquidated. The College voted to accept the committee's recommendation on 6 January 1936, and the directory's operations were discontinued as of 31 March 1936.


.4 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The records of the Directory for Nurses 1,cre deposj ted in the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Frederick Fraley on 22 April 1936.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1991.
Records of the Committee on the Directory for Nurses
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States