Montefiore School of Nursing, Class of 1938

March is Women’s History Month in the United States, and few professions have historically been as closely associated with women as nursing.  The photo above shows the principal and the 1938 graduating class of the Montefiore Hospital School of Nursing, now called the Montefiore School of Nursing.  The school is based in Mount Vernon, New York, which is an inner suburb of New York City, just north of the Bronx.  The school is part of the Montefiore Medical Center, which is the teaching and research hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Each woman is identified at the bottom of the photo by first initial and last name.  I cropped the names from the image above, but I captioned the detail images below with each woman’s name, beginning with the back row and moving from left to right:

1. J. Silver
J. Silver
2b. M. Garfunkel
M. Garfunkel
3. Z. Stich
Z. Stich
4. H. Petshot
H. Petshot
5. E. Hall
E. Hall
6. F. Levine
F. Levine
7. L. Reichard
L. Reichard
8. M.H. Shellenberger, Principal
M.H. Shellenberger, Principal
9. K. Wetherstein
K. Wetherstein
10. F. Rice
F. Rice
11. E. Spector
E. Spector


Here’s to nurses!

Montefiore School of Nursing (1938) 2



26 thoughts on “Montefiore School of Nursing, Class of 1938

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  1. They do look determined and were probably grateful that they would be employed in 1938. I remember when nurses dressed like that. What would they think today if they knew there were women doctors? And men can be nurses? We have come a long way! I like the way you cropped the photos to give us a close up with a name. Cheers for women!

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    1. I’ve never seen statistics about men in nursing, but the number of women doctors has fluctuated a great deal over the past 150 years. The 1890s were a high point, and then standardization of curricula at medical schools meant that fewer programs were designed specifically with women’s health in mind, so the number of women earning medical degrees declined dramatically in the early decades of the 20th century. It was the opposite of progress!

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      1. I know this is showing my age, but I remember the first time I saw a nurse wearing scrubs. My immediate reaction was, I’m supposed to trust my physical well-being to someone who comes to work in her pajamas?!

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  2. I confess Miss Silver, Miss Garfunkel and Miss Stich look very kind to me and I would welcome their smile if I was ill. I’ve always giggled at these pinafore style nursing outfits. They must be secured in a way I cannot see. Most of the time a pinafore made this way will slide annoyingly off the shoulders so as not to be very efficient for nursing. ( I wore pinafores as a little girl.). But I’m certain there is something about it I don’t know. 😂. I can’t help but wonder if any of these young women served overseas or in a war capacity. I so greatly admire the nursing profession and the women who choose to give their lives in this way. A beautiful March tribute to women! Thank you Brad 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I wonder how many lives these young woman touched during the course of their careers. It would be interesting to know where fate took them and whether or not they went overseas. I haven’t tried to find any of them in census records. With only an initial instead of a first name, it might be difficult or impossible. Still, it might be worth a try. Their skills would have been in great demand in the coming years.

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  3. One year before WW2!

    It is a heartening thing to see how long lived are our institutions and how much discipline and work it has taken and takes to create and sustain them. Big important ones and smaller ones. The Montefiore Nursing School still there and still adapting, no doubt.

    Very heartening at this time in the history of our nation!

    Only the principal wears white shoes and white stockings. Different outfit altogether, of course: long sleeves, buttons and what appears to be a coat dress. Perhaps this is still the case?

    So coded an environment that the briefest glance told you who was who.

    Silicon Valley popped into my mind and I began to laugh….Although I have no doubt that they, too, have their coded signifiers of rank and authority!

    So interesting all your photos. Thanks. Sarah

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve never been to Silicon Valley, although a good friend of mine went out there and made his fortune in the 1990s. I suspect the dress-coding there is sort of in reverse: the higher you go in the hierarchy, the more casual the attire. But maybe that’s a general California stereotype. Thanks as always for your attention and your thoughts! Brad

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an interesting time to become a nurse – right before WWII.

    A previous commenter said they liked how you showed each woman individually, with their name, and I agree. It makes a person curious to know what happened to each of them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, it would be interesting to know about their future, and also about their past. Were they all born in the United States, or did some of them arrive as children in the wave of immigration from Europe after the First World War? Maybe one of their descendants will find this page and let us know (I hope!).

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Does anyone else remember the Sue Barton novels by Helen Dore Boylston? They had some of them at the local library when I was a child (translated into German), and I loved them! “Sue Barton, Student Nurse” came out in 1936. I don’t remember where the training hospital is supposed to be, but “Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse” is set in New York.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How fun! I hadn’t heard of the books or the author. Apparently the setting for Sue Barton’s training was the Henry Street Settlement in lower Manhattan, founded in 1893 by Lillian Wald. Montefiore School of Nursing was founded in 1901 as part of Montefiore Hospital (founded 1884). So, the nursing schools were getting started around the same time. The history of medicine and medical care would be a great subject for a blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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