In Her Words

Letter from Lottie A. Darling to Louise Knapp, January 13, 1941

Louise Knapp, director of the Washington University School of Nursing from 1940 to 1961, made inquiries to several people with early associations to the school for information about early staff members and the school’s history. In response to her inquiry, Lottie A. Darling, one of the first directors of the school, wrote this letter describing the origins of the student nurses’ uniforms. Darling died only two months after this letter was written, at the age of 65.

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Letter from Lottie Darling to Louise Knapp, 1/13/1941, p.1

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St. Barnabas Guild House
2061 Cornell Road
Cleveland, Ohio
January 13, 1941

Miss Louise Knapp, Director
Washington University School of Nursing
416 South Kingshighway
St. Louis, Missouri

My dear Miss Knapp,
      You have requested information concerning the origins of the small green check uniform of the students of the Washington University School of Nursing.
      When I took charge of the School in 1911, a dark blue uniform was being worn. The uniform was very cheap-looking and became quickly frayed and faded. I felt that a more dignified uniform should be worn.
      As I had always admired the uniform of the school from which I graduated, the Lakeside Hospital (Cleveland, Ohio), I felt that an uniform made of like material but of another color might prove very satisfactory.
      I called upon Mrs. Jones, who was president or chairman of the Women’s Board of the Children’s Hospital, I believe, at that time, for advice and assistance.
      Mrs. Jones approved of my suggestion and we chose the material but with the color green instead of blue. The material was an Anderson gingham and could only be purchased

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Letter from Lottie Darling to Louise Knapp, 1/13/1941, p.2

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from the Anderson Co. of New York. The check was smaller than any which could be purchased at any store, thus preventing the uniform being copied by anyone without the right to wear it.
      During the war, the material could not be purchased, so a larger check was used at Lakeside. I believe I heard that Washington University also had to make a change. I suppose both schools went back to using the small check after the war was over, but I am not certain.
      The cap was not changed, as we felt that it could be very easily packed in a suit-case. I do not know its origins.
      I always thought the uniform looked very fresh and clean and I always felt very grateful to Mrs. Jones for her help.
      Many interesting incidents occurred during my stay (1911-1914). I cannot relate them now, however.
      I believe there were printed programs for the students at that time.
      Kindly remember me to Estelle Claiborne. I remember her well.
      Thank you for sending the School Bulletin.
      I am pleased that you wrote to me.

            Very sincerely yours,
                  Lottie A. Darling