Archives Research Internship at Children’s Mercy Hospital

Children’s Mercy Archives Research Associate

Summary: An exciting opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a history program for a more-than-century-old pediatric medical center. The research associate will work in concert with the Director of Archives for Children’s Mercy to uncover stories, themes, facts, photos and more to tell the story of this leading children’s hospital that was started by two sisters – both doctors – in 1897s.

Research details: There are two major projects the new Archives is undertaking initially: publishing a book of the history of Children’s Mercy; and developing a collection of oral histories from people with long-standing tenure at the Kansas City-based hospital. The Research Associate has the opportunity to assist in either or both of these projects. There are many shapes, sizes and topics this research can come in. So possible areas of research:

  • Background and history of the individuals participating in the oral history project.
  • Decade-by-decade research into the development of Children’s Mercy and its context in the history of Kansas City and the United States. Some examples:
    • What was Kansas City like in 1897? How were women perceived, and particularly these two women? What about “orphan trains?” What was the state of medicine at the time? Pediatrics?
    • In the 1950s, Children’s Mercy had outgrown its hospital on Independence Avenue in Northeast Kansas City. What was the discussion and h0w was the decision to made to relocate on Hospital Hill near General Hospital (in Missouri) and not near the University of Kansas Medical Center (in Kansas)? Children’s Mercy also lost its accreditation for medical education at this time. How was it restored?
  • Research could also be built around themes:
    • The role of women in society, in business and in caring for children.
    • Progress in medicine and medical research and how that affected Children’s Mercy.
    • Race relations in Kansas City. One of the founders Children’s Mercy worked to establish a pediatric ward and teaching program at one of the “black hospitals” in town so African-American children could receive care and African-American doctors could be trained. o The importance of Philanthropy and community support. From a blackboard in front of the hospital pleading for donations of sheets and apples to campaigns to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, Children’s Mercy has relied on the generosity of Kansas City. A list of donors is also a list of “Who’s Who in KC.”

Research materials: The Children’s Mercy Archives consists of a large collection of printed material, photos and 3D artifacts. The collection is in the process of being turned over to the University of Missouri – Kansas City Special Collections Library. It will begin this summer to organize, catalog and digitize (as appropriate.) Finding aids will be developed and put on –line. The Library staff will work with Children’s Mercy to digitize and make available any and all materials we wish to share with the public and/or researchers. Children’s Mercy is maintaining ownership and will have free access to the collection. The collection consists of thousands of photographs, board and foundation minutes dating to the 1930s (at least), patient and financial information dating to the earliest part of the 20th Century, scrapbooks, press clippings, videos (in VHS and DVD formats) and more. The artifacts, currently housed in a warehouse in Central Kansas City, MO, have not been assessed or cataloged for quite some time. There are currently no detailed long-term plans for those artifacts.

In addition, there are two published histories of the hospital and one unpublished manuscript. The published books include: A history of Children’s Mercy Hospital by Roger Swanson (1961); and Women of Vision by Beatrice Johns (2004). The second books covers the history only until the 1930s. About half the books consists of accounts of Johns own stays at Children’s Mercy in the 1920s. The manuscript is , The History of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., by Herbert A Wenner and Sydney F. Pakula (1984). The authors are both former Children’s Mercy doctors and the book contains a plethora of information about the medical staff from the 1960s until 1984.

There are countless other sources of information, including the Kansas City Star, the Jackson County Medical Society newsletters, the Children’s Mercy Communications and Marketing Department (which includes the Archives), and many interested people with personal histories of Children’s Mercy.

For more information and to apply, contact Archivist Thomas McCormally tmccormally@cmh.edu.

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