Waiting, Waiting, Waiting….

The Mount Sinai Archives has recently received the records that document the histories of the St. Luke’s Hospital, The Roosevelt Hospital, and the Woman’s Hospital in the State of New York, which merged with St. Luke’s in 1953.  We are still in the process of ingesting these records and figuring out what we have, but one particular series has popped up that we couldn’t wait to highlight.

In the 1940’s, the Woman’s Hospital placed a small notebook in the waiting room on the maternity ward and asked prospective fathers to write their thoughts about their experience while there. The Archives has only four volumes, covering 1940-1944.  It is unknown how long this practice continued.  Still, the volumes that exist are wonderful to read, both for how the fathers (mostly) expressed their feelings as time passed and they waited with only occasional updates, as well as for how these volumes bear witness to the era in which they were created.  There is a fervent entry about hoping this child will never have to know about Hitler or Nazis. There is another written by a grandmother because the father was a soldier. And there is the most obvious fact that marks them as from an earlier era: these fathers were all banished to a far away room and were not allowed to be part of the birth experience.

Below is just one page from the 1940/41 volume.  It sums up the experience in the most simple of ways.

A page from the Fathers' Book from the woman's Hospital in 1940/41

A page from the Fathers’ Book from the woman’s Hospital in 1940/41

Memorial Day

The cemetery at Base Hospital No.3 for Americans who died at the hospital.  circa 1918

The cemetery at Base Hospital No.3 for Americans who died at the hospital, 1918

Memorial Day is set aside to remember the servicemen and women who have died while in service to their country. Ceremonies started after the Civil War and it became a national holiday after World War II.  Since injury and death are a part of war, doctors and nurses have always been witnesses to the ravages of battlefields.  The image above shows the American cemetery at Base Hospital No. 3, the Mount Sinai Hospital-staffed unit that served in France.

While the deaths happened abroad, the biggest impact was felt at home. It was not only families that marked their losses, but institutions as well.  By World War II, service flags were a familiar patriotic symbol.  The photo below shows Mount Sinai’s flag hanging from 1184 Fifth Avenue.  The number on the bottom shows how many Mount Sinai doctors, nurses, staff and trustees were in the service at that time.  The gold star at the top showed how many had died. By the end of the war, Mount Sinai’s numbers had grown to 802 served, nine dead.

The Mount Sinai Hospital service flag, 1944

The Mount Sinai Hospital service flag, 1944

Those nine are recognized here:

  • Nils Carson
  • Sydney C. Feinberg, MD
  • Andrew Goldstein
  • Jerome W. Greenbaum, MD
  • Eugene M. Holleb, MD
  • Goodell G. Klevan, MD
  • Bernard Ritter, MD
  • Helen Rogers, RN
  • Stanley J. Snitow, MD