I guess this is the kind of person we should be naming buildings after

My elementary school wasn’t named after a President, a slave owner, or even a Union Army general. It was named after a Red Cross nurse who treated soldiers in France in World War I and came home to treat people during the pandemic of 1918.

Supposedly it was considered unusual back then to name a public school after someone who wasn’t a famous politician or war hero. But my hometown was ahead of its time. They named it after a “healthcare hero.” I wonder if she would have been in favor of Medicare for All.

2 comments

  1. After graduating as a nurse, Grace went to work at the Hahnemann Hospital, on Park Avenue on New York City’s Upper East Side. Hahnemann Homeopathic Hospitals would appear in many of America’s major cities—Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago among them. New York City’s Hahnemann Hospital was incorporated early in the fall of 1869. The Hahenemann was a “free bed” hospital—meaning that those who could not afford care were treated as charity cases.

    Hospital president Hiram Calkins (who, in an interesting side note, was present at the death of President Lincoln), with “the liberal contributions of the patrons of Homeopathy and a large sum raised at a fair, the construction of the Hahnemann Hospital on its lots was commenced in 1876.” The cornerstone laying ceremony, conducted on October 25, 1876 was, as The New York Times described it, “according to the elaborate and impressive forms of Masonry.” William Cullen Bryant spoke at the ceremony.

    You had to have a radical frame of mind to work at a homeopathic hospital even in those days.

    Betcha didn’t hear of any of this in your school days.

    1. I used to see her photo every day in Elementary School. But I don’t remember thinking very much of her until I read A Farewell to Arms in high school and thinking “hey Catherine Barkley’s kind of like Grace Wilday.”

      I did hear quite about about Jersey City’s free health care under Frank Hague from an English teacher who grew up there and was born in Jersey City Medical Center.

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