1874, Euphemia Van Rensselaer, Bellevue, early female nursing advocate, signed

In this letter dated 1874, Training School for Nurses, Miss Euphemia Van Rensselaer has written and signed a letter to a nursing candidate, stating that she is not healthy enough to enter the school, signed E. Van Rensselaer. Letter is 7x9, minor faults, else in overall good condition.

Born in 1843, Euphemia Van Rensselaer grew up a child of wealth and privilege. A turning point in her life came during the Civil War when her father, an Inspector General in the Union Army, contracted typhoid fever. Euphemia and her mother rushed to his deathbed, and it was there she vowed to devote the rest of her life to caring for the sick.

In 1873 she enrolled in the first nursing class at Bellevue Hospital where she received training from Sr. Helen, an Anglican nun who herself had learned the art of nursing from Florence Nightingale. Shortly after she completed her training, Euphemia went to England to join the same Anglican order.

Her new faith gave Euphemia a new way of fulfilling her desire to serve the sick poor. She entered the Sisters of Charity in 1878, when she was 35. While still a novice, Sister Marie Dolores, as she was known, was sent to The New York Foundling Hospital to start a training program for pediatric nurses. She remained there for the first ten years of her religious life. This was a 'first' in a life that

In 1889 she was the first Sister Servant of the newly established mission in the Bahamas. She founded it on the rock solid foundations of faith, compassion, and care which were - and are - hallmarks of our Sisters' presence there to this day.

In 1894 she returned to NY to take charge of the just-opened Seton Hospital in the Bronx where tuberculosis patients were cared for. • In 1897 she was named first director of Grace Institute in Manhattan, a free school for women with classes in sewing, cooking, and secretarial subjects.

In 1901 she opened Nazareth Day Nursery on 15th St. in Manhattan to care for the children of working mothers. This was her favorite mission because it was the fulfillment of her brother's long cherished dream and allowed her to work with him in the spiritual care of the women whose children were in her charge.

It was also her last mission: physically fragile, she returned to The Foundling Hospital and spent her last year there, where she had begun 35 years before. Her religious life had come full circle.

She is credited with the first trained nurse in the United States. • founded the Bellevue Training School for Nurses in Manhattan. • was the first woman to assist as nurse at a surgical operation: the amputation of a leg. • designed the first nurses' uniform: blue & white dress of "suitable wash material" - seersucker - with collar and cuffs, an apron and, in 1876.

The Bellevue Training School for Nurses, opened May 1, 1873, was the first school of the kind in this country. The New Haven and Boston schools followed closely, being also opened in 1873.

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