Directors of the Washington University School of Nursing
St. Louis has long boasted a number of excellent nursing schools. Primary among them was the Washington University School of Nursing. From its beginnings in 1905 as the Washington University Training School for Nurses to its growth into a leading university school of nursing to its closing in 1969, the School had a long tradition of excellence. Many dynamic women guided the School over the years.
|Menia D. Tye, ca. 1908|
Menia D. Tye was the first superintendent of the Washington University Training School for Nurses, serving from 1906 until August 1911. A native of Ontario, Canada, Tye had received her training at the Toronto General Hospital. Menia Tye concurrently served as Supervisor of Nurses at the Washington University Hospital. Her sister, Lila Tye, served as the night supervisor of nurses. A third sister, Martha Tye, was in charge of the operating room. Lila Tye left Washington University in 1908. Menia and Lila left in 1911 to go to Sparks Memorial Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Lottie A. Darling was the second superintendent of the Washington University Training School for Nurses, serving from 1911 to 1914. She was an honors student in the first graduating class of the Lakeside Hospital School of Nursing in Cleveland. After graduation in 1901, Darling stayed at Lakeside Hospital, first as operating room head nurse, and then as supervisor of nurses. She became principal of Nurses at Lakeside in 1907, and remained in that position until she left for Washington University in St. Louis in 1911. After her tenure at Washington University, Darling was principal of the School of Nursing at Grace Hospital in Detroit and then superintendent of Nurses and principal of the School of Nursing at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. In 1934 Darling retired from active work. Darling was a member of the American Red Cross and the American Nurses Association. She died at the age of 65 in 1941.
Julia C. Stimson, the head of the Social Service Department at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, assumed the position of director of the Washington University Training School for Nurses in 1914. She was followed by Helen R. Bridge, who served as acting superintendent from 1917 to 1919, and Helen Wood, who served as director from 1919 to 1923.
|Claribel A. Wheeler, 1925|
Claribel A. Wheeler served as superintendent of the Washington University School of Nursing from 1923 until August 1931. She oversaw the transition of the program from the Training School for Nurses to the School of Nursing, which included the introduction of a five-year bachelor of science in Nursing degree and a revamping of the three-year course in nursing that led to a diploma in Nursing. A program in Public Health Nursing was introduced in 1929.
Claribel Wheeler was a 1907 graduate of the Vassar Brothers’ Hospital. She worked for several years at the Sloan Maternity Hospital in New York and received training in hospital administration at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to coming to Washington University Wheeler was director of the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in Cleveland. Wheeler resigned in 1931 to become executive secretary of the National League of Nursing Education.
|Ruth Ingram, 1938|
Following the resignation of Claribel Wheeler, Ruth Ingram was appointed director of the Washington University School of Nursing. She had come to St. Louis in 1930, joining the staff of Barnes Hospital as superintendent of nurses. Ingram served as director of the School of Nursing from September 1931 until 1938.
Ruth Ingram was born in 1891 in China, the child of a medical missionary. She received a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in 1911 and a diploma in Nursing from the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1918. She received a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1924. Ingram worked for many years at the Nursing School of the Peking Union Medical College, leaving in 1929 after serving as head nurse, superintendent of Nursing, and finally dean of the School. From October 1918 until March 1919 Ingram served on an American Red Cross Expedition to Siberia.
Ingram was eager to make changes in the School of Nursing. She foresaw the need for both the introduction of graduate courses in nursing and for the School of Nursing to become an autonomous school of the University. By placing the School on the same financial basis as the other schools, it would not have to be dependent upon the income from the affiliated hospitals that paid for student nurse service. Ingram left the University in 1938, unable to realize her plans. A master of science degree in Nursing was not introduced until 1951. The School of Nursing did not become autonomous until 1955.
After leaving the Washington University School of Nursing, Ingram became director of nursing of Touro Infirmary, New Orleans, Louisiana. During World War II Ingram served as a volunteer in the nursing education service of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, primarily in China. After the end of the war, she transferred to the newly organized World Health Organization, working in both China (1945-1950) and Burma (1950-1952). From 1952 until her retirement in 1957, Ingram served as director of Nursing Education in the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1958 her alma mater Oberlin College conferred upon Ruth Ingram the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of her distinguished international services to the nursing profession.
Assistant professor of Nursing Lucy F. Hoblitzelle served as acting director of the School of Nursing from 1938 until 1940. Hoblitzelle received her diploma in Nursing from the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 1928; she received the B.S. and M.A. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1936.
|Louise Knapp, 1951|
In 1940 Louise Knapp was appointed director. Knapp was born in St. Louis on March 19, 1896. After serving as a Red Cross volunteer during the First World War, she decided to become a nurse, graduating from the Washington University School of Nursing in 1920. After her graduation Knapp was a nurse at the Henry Street Nursing Service in New York City. While in New York she obtained her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1927 and her master’s degree from Columbia in 1932. Knapp then served for two years as an instructor of Public Health Nursing at Teachers College, Columbia University. From 1934 until 1940, she was a professor of Nursing and director of the Nursing Department of Wayne University in Detroit.
Knapp returned to St. Louis and Washington University in 1940 to become director of the School of Nursing, a position she held until November 1961. During her tenure the school developed programs leading to both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. For three months in 1953 she served as a consultant in nursing education in Thailand under the auspices of the Mutual Security Agency of the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1960 Knapp was recognized as one of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat’s Women of Achievement for her contributions in the area of education. Knapp remained a professor of Nursing at the University for a year after she retired as director. Knapp died in July 1984 at the age of 88.
Upon Louise Knapp’s retirement as director of the School of Nursing, Martha M. Brown was appointed dean of the School. Brown, a member of the faculty since 1949, received a bachelor’s of science in Nursing degree and an interdepartmental master’s of Art degree from Western Reserve University. She served as dean until the fall of 1968, after the Washington University chancellor had announced the closing of the School the following summer. Doris C. Bates served as acting dean until the closing of the School of Nursing in June 1969.
- History of the Washington University School of Nursing
- Letters by and to Lottie A. Darling, Ruth Ingram, and Louise Knapp
- Images of Louise Knapp
Speeches by Louise Knapp:
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