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Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing records

Identifier: MS-14

Scope and Contents

The Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing Records are comprised of 22 boxes of papers and archival material, including photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, newspaper clippings, reports, Yearbooks, nursing caps and uniforms. The collection does *not* contain official student records such as transcripts. HSL does not know where these records were transferred when the school closed.


  • Creation: 1894 - 1987

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

The Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing began on November 1, 1894, when Marjorie Adamson established a small training school at the Alexandria Hospital. It was the fourth school of nursing to be established in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The original two year program began with two "pupil nurses," who received their diplomas on December 1, 1896.

As a graduate of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland, Marjorie Adamson was both a physician and a nurse, and her professional background inspired her to establish a school that would promote excellence. The Board of Lady Managers was the governing board of the Hospital and the School and Marjorie Adamson proposed to the Board that the School offer general training for nurses using a curriculum that was the same as that used in the leading training schools in the South.

The Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing quickly established a reputation for excellence, and the course of study included lectures from physicians, and clinical experience in community nursing in the homes of Alexandria residents. In 1911 under the leadership of Naomi Simmons, the School increased the length of training to three years, became affiliated with the Episcopal Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in Washington D.C., and required graduates to take the State Board examination to obtain licensure. The curriculum covered such subjects as anatomy, symptomatology, EENT, dietetics, materia medica, physiology, hygiene, surgical technique and emergency, obstetrics, gynecology, children's diseases, anesthetics, urinalysis, bacteriology, massage, and practical nursing.

When an entering student successfully completed the two month probationary period, she was given a cap to signify acceptance as a student nurse. Upon graduation, the cap was decorated with a black band. In 1916, Fannie Carter, a graduate of George Washington University, became the Superintendent of Nursing and Director of the School, a position she held for 21 years. During her tenure, admission requirements were raised, classes were held for four hours a day, a full-time instructor was hired, and History of Nursing was added to the curriculum. In 1928, an arrangment was made with the University of Virginia Hospital for an affiliation in pediatrics. The School closed from 1933 to 1936 due to financial difficulties incurred as a result of the Depression.

In 1943, Alexandria Hospital received approval to provide training for Cadet Nurses to help during World War II. The program continued until 1945. In 1944 the affiliation in Pediatric Nursing was switched to Children's Hospital in Washington D.C. and an affiliation in Psychiatric Nursing was established with St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. In 1956 the Medical Nursing Library was established and in 1958 the School received full accreditation from the National League for Nursing. Also in 1958 married students were allowed at the School, and it became the first school in the State of Virginia to admit male nursing students.

Throughout the 1960's the number of faculty increased, and in 1968, the School of Nursing became a separate department in the Alexandria Hospital organization. In 1974, the entire hospital moved from Duke Street to Seminary Road, student dormitories closed, and the School became a commuter facility. All courses were taught at the School of Nursing, affiliations with other hospitals ended, and Alexandria Hospital remained the primary clinical facility.

After a two year review, the Board of Directors of Alexandria Hospital decided in March of 1984, to phase out the School of Nursing program and close the School in June of 1987. Qualified applicants had declined over the years as nursing students favored the four year baccalaureate programs over the three year clinical diploma program. Alumni and the final fourteen members of the 1987 graduating class joined in closing activities at the School that focused on "Celebrating a Proud History," and emphasized the legacy of high standards and values that graduates of the Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing contributed to their profession over the years.


18.4 Linear Feet


The collection is organized by administrative/curriculum, alumnae minutes & other materials, photos, slides, tapes, and artifacts. Boxes 19 through 21 contain Yearbooks arranged in date order. Box 22 includes administrative reports and minutes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired from The Alexandria Hospital in 1990. The material in boxes 19 - 22 were received in December 2011 from Randolph Pillow, Seattle, Wa.

Physical Description

14 linear ft. (22 boxes, ca. 1,135 items)


Processed by:
Historical Collections Staff
A Guide to the Alexandria School of Nursing Records, 1894-1987
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States