Skip to main content

Bold Vision: Catholic Sisters and the Creation of American Hospitals

Abstract

American hospitals were started by religious, ethnic and community groups to serve local health care needs. Immigration into the eastern cities and the constant movement west of the frontier required the creation of educational and service facilities to serve these populations and localities. In the nineteenth century, Catholic sisters went all across the country establishing schools and hospitals. They were motivated to care for the sick, establish charitable institutions and spread their religious beliefs. Their impact on the development of the American health system was enormous. They also supported the importance of nursing for the provision of scientifically based medical care and created schools of nursing. Their historical record as founders, builders, financiers and managers of hospitals is unmatched by any other group between 1850 and 1950. And, this was accomplished at a time when women played no similar leadership and institutional ownership role elsewhere in society.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. 1.

    Rosner, D. (1982). A once charitable enterprise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Place, M. D. (2002). Reflections. A shared history of ‘doing what needs to be done. Health Progress, 83(4), 6.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Kauffman, C. J. (1995). Ministry & meaning. New York, NY: Crossroad.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Wall, B. W. (2005). Unlikely entrepreneurs. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Nelson, S. (2001). Say little, do much. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Magray, M. P. (1998). The transforming power of the nuns. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Stepsis, U., & Liptak, D. (Eds.). (1989). Pioneer healers. New York, NY: Crossroad.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Whalen, E. (2002). The sisters story. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Education and Research.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    (Undated). History of the Franciscan Sisters of the Allegany. Unpublished manuscript, Allegany, NY: Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Allegany.

  10. 10.

    Ryan, M. J. (2007). On becoming exceptional. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Farren, S. (1996). A call to care. St. Louis, MO: The Catholic Health Association of the United States.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Fialka, J. J. (2003). Sisters: Catholic nuns and the making of America. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Richardson, J. P. (1959). Mother Alfred and the doctors Mayo. New York, NY: Benziger Brothers.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Century of Caring 1889–1989. (1988). Rochester. MN: St. Mary’s Hospital.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Reverby, S. M. (1987). Ordered to care. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Catholic Health Care in the United States (The Catholic Health Association: 2008). www.catholichealthcare.us.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter J. Levin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Levin, P.J. Bold Vision: Catholic Sisters and the Creation of American Hospitals. J Community Health 36, 343–347 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-011-9401-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Catholic hospitals USA
  • Hospital history
  • Community hospitals