UCLA Catalog Record ID
Scope and Content
Title: Birdie May Adair Collection of items pertaining to the Training Camp for Nurses at Vassar College, 1918,
Date (inclusive): 1918-1921
Collection number: **AC 8 V3 A191m Rare
Collector: Adair, Birdie May
(0.5 linear ft.)
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: Miss Birdie May Adair graduated from the University
of North Dakota in 1913 and attended the Training Camp for Nurses at Vassar
College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., during the summer (July 24 to September 13) of
1918. The training camp was organized under the auspices of the National Council
of Defense with funding from the American Red Cross. The camp's intent was to
draw female college graduates into the critically understaffed ranks of wartime
nurses, and it included 430 young women from 117 different colleges. After the
summer, trainees went on to regular hospital training programs throughout the
country. The collection consists of: Miss Adair's certificate of completion of
the training course; announcement booklet outlining camp guidelines; several
contemporary photographs; and a nearly complete run (one issue lacking) of the
camp newspaper, "The Thermometer", published weekly during the camp's duration
and occasionally thereafter for 6 more issues.
Physical location: History and Special Collections Division,
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, University of California, Los
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
The collection is open for research. Contact the History and Special
Collections Division, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA, for
Conditions of Use
[Identification of item], Birdie May Adair collection of items pertaining to the Training Camp for Nurses at Vassar College,
1918 (**AC 8 V3 A191m Rare). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division, University of
California, Los Angeles.
UCLA Catalog Record ID
Miss Adair kept these materials from her Vassar camp days & presented
them to the UCLA Biomedical Library in 1967. Her letter of transmittal is
included in Folder 1.
The Vassar Training Camp was organized under the auspices of the National
Council of Defense, with funding from the American Red Cross "to establish and
maintain a school of science applied to nursing at Vassar College during the
summer of 1918." The intent was to draw female college graduates into the
critically undermanned ranks of wartime nurses. Four hundred and thirty young
women from 117 different colleges gathered for "a summer school for intensive
theoretical training of hospital nurses..." A prestigious faculty recruited for
the summer from major eastern universities gave instruction in anatomy,
physiology, bacteriology, chemistry, dietetics & cookery, hygiene,
practical nursing, history and social aspects of nursing, elementary materia
medica, psychology, and oversaw physical training. The Camp ran from June 24 to
September 13, 1918. The trainees then went on to regular hospital training
programs around the country, where their time to graduation with a nursing
diploma was reduced from the normal three to approximately two years.
Birdie May Adair was a member of this select group. In her May 14, 1967
letter to History & Special Collections librarian Martha T. Gnudi, Miss
Adair said, "That Camp was probably the most interesting and worthwhile event of
my whole life."
Miss Adair began her hospital nursing training at Boston City Hospital, but
had to drop out with a bad case of diphtheria. In 1920 she began training at the
Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and received her nursing diploma from
that institution. After further study in public health nursing she became a
"teaching nurse" in San Pedro High School from 1924 to 1930, and from there she
moved to Franklin High School in Los Angeles. In subsequent years she taught in
the Nursing Department of Los Angeles City College, and assisted at the Red
Cross Teacher Training course at UCLA. She ostensibly retired from nursing in
1957, but continued in substitute teaching in nursing arts. (Some biographical
information was drawn from "Vassar's Rainbow Division, 1918; the Training Camp
for Nurses at Vassar College," by Gladys Bonner Clappison, 1964.
Scope and Content
The items include Miss Adair's certificate of completion of the course, an
announcement for the course giving camp guidelines, some contemporary
photographs and, most interestingly, an almost complete run (one issue lacking)
of the camp newspaper, "The Thermometer", published weekly during the camp's run
and occasionally thereafter for six more issues.
The collection is organized into four folders (5 linear inches) and is
cataloged as: **AC 8 V3 A191m Rare.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Adair, Birdie May,
World War, 1914-1918--Women--New