OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University Stewart Library Special Collections, in conjunction with the Mount Benedict Monastery, is embarking on a new oral history project documenting the history of the St. Benedict’s School of Nursing by interviewing graduates of the program.
Sarah Langsdon, associate curator of Special Collections, is heading the project and says they need help tracking down the graduates.
“Right now we only have contact information for a small portion of the graduates, but we know that others are out there,” Langsdon said. “We’re hoping they’ll contact us and share their stories.”
This new oral history project will be similar to one completed earlier this year on the Dee School of Nursing. Graduates of St. Benedict’s will be interviewed about their training, their instructors, and other experiences at the school.
“As in the Dee project, we hope to gain valuable information from the graduates that we can then make available to researchers,” Langsdon said.
The School of Nursing opened in 1947, under the direction of the Benedictine nuns who also ran the hospital, which opened only a year earlier. During the three-year program, students lived in the nurses’ home, worked in the hospital, and attended special training sessions at other hospitals in and out of state. By the time the program was phased out in 1968 to join forces with Weber State’s nursing school, more than 350 students had graduated from St. Benedict’s.
“The sisters who taught there and the graduates themselves all contributed a great deal to the community and Ogden’s history,” said Marci Farr, a manuscript processor in Special Collections, who will join Langsdon on the project. “The sisters still serving at Mount Benedict Monastery have also been a great help, and I’m looking forward to working with them as we gather these important stories.”
Langsdon and Farr also are looking for photographs and documents that tell the story of the school.
“We are willing of course, to add such items to our holdings so that they can be preserved, but we also can scan the items and return them to their owners if they’re not ready to part with them,” said Langsdon. “Either way, they’ll be a great help to us.”
The oral history project has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council and the Utah State History. Interviews will begin as soon as possible, and anyone with information about the graduates or St. Benedict’s School of Nursing is encouraged to contact Langsdon or Farr at 801-626-6540, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
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