1110 W. Michigan St.

Long Hospital Exterior, ca. 1920, UA24-002625
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives.

Prior to the opening of the Robert W. Long Hospital on June 15, 1914, the Indiana University School of Medicine did not have its own teaching hospital. Its teaching facilities were located downtown at the site of the former Central College of Physicians and Surgeons. Without a hospital of its own, the School of Medicine sent students to City Hospital to complete their medical rotations. 1

In order to offer a top-notch medical program, Indiana University needed its own hospital, but had no funds to build one. The school struggled with this problem from its beginnings in 1908 until a local Indianapolis physician, Robert Long, donated the money to build a hospital in 1911. The university eventually settled on a site on the West side of the city and began construction. When concluded, Long Hospital became the first building on Indiana University's current medical campus. Besides medical facilities, Long Hospital offered Indiana University’s first Training School for Nurses. 2 From the hospital’s beginnings, women found ample opportunities to contribute to hospital operations and patient care as physicians, nurses, and domestic staff.

Alice Fitzgerald and the Beginnings of the Indiana University Training School for Nurses

"Alice Fitzgerald, 1914 or 1915," UA24-006307
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

One of the earliest acceptable female occupations, nursing first evolved into a trained profession in the years after the Civil War. Inspired both by women's nursing activities during the war and Florence Nightingale's English training model, training schools for nurses slowly sprang up along the east coast and eventually spread throughout the country. The first of these schools opened in 1879 in New York, Boston, and New Haven. 3 From these modest beginnings, training schools soon opened throughout the country. The first training school for nurses in Indiana opened in 1883 at the Indianapolis Flower Mission. The Flower Mission originated in 1876 as a group of local women who cheered the sick at Indianapolis City Hospital with gifts of flowers, jellies, and jams. The women gradually took on philanthropy activities including the operation of a home for homeless boys and the nurses’ training school. Over the years, the Flower Mission had many homes, including one at 18th and Capitol. City Hospital (now Wishard) took over the training school in 1896. Additional schools opened rapidly, and by the time the Indiana University Training School for Nurses opened in 1914, fourteen other schools of nursing had been established throughout the state. 4

During the final decades of the nineteenth century, medical discoveries including nitrous oxide, antiseptics, and the x-ray machine increased the demand for trained nurses. By 1900, new technologies that were only available in hospitals caused a shift in preference among the middle and upper classes from home care to hospital care. 5 As a result both of this influx of desirable patients and the invention of new technologies, more and more hospitals established their own training schools to insure that their nurses conformed to the specific institution’s standards of care. By the late 1890s, four hundred and thirty-two training schools had been established with an estimated eleven thousand one hundred and sixty four students. 6 It was during these years of great growth and change that the Indiana University Training School for Nurses opened.

In 1914, Dr. Charles P. Emerson, Dean of the Medical School, hired Alice Fitzgerald as the first director of the new Indiana University Training School for Nurses. This original training school fell under the control of the Medical School, and would not emerge as its own separate school until 1965. 7

Although she only remained at Indiana University for one year, in that short time Fitzgerald succeeded in creating a top-notch nursing program among the most desolate of surroundings. In her history of the Indiana University Training School for Nurses, Dorcas Rock wrote that “When she [Fitzgerald] arrived in Indianapolis in the fall of 1913 to organize the School of Nursing, the physical aspects would have daunted a less hardy spirit. Long Hospital stood stark, and new, and unfinished. The city dump west of the hospital, cornfields, and a few nondescript houses scattered about the neighborhood added no charm to the desolate surroundings.” 8 Fitzgerald, herself, later recalled, “When I arrived in Indiana, the Hospital seemed so lonely and small.” 9

Thus began Fitzgerald’s affiliation with Indiana University. Fitzgerald was a highly trained nurse, having graduated from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing in 1906, and later from Teachers College, Columbia University. Like many trained nurses of her day, after obtaining a degree in nursing Fitzgerald immediately became eligible for administrative work. By the time she arrived at Indiana University, Fitzgerald had already worked in administrative positions at Bellevue Hospital in New York and General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 10

When she arrived at Long Hospital, Fitzgerald's duties included both ordering ample supplies for the hospital and organizing the Training School for Nurses. Fitzgerald equipped the hospital with all the best technologies. She also created the nursing curriculum, designed the uniforms and caps, and oversaw the admittance of the first students. Fitzgerald's initial nursing staff was relatively small. It consisted of one instructor, two head nurses, a night supervisor, an operating room supervisor, and seven staff nurses. 11

In the first year, Fitzgerald admitted five students to the nursing program. The program only admitted healthy, young, single, female students. It would not be until 1943 that the first nursing student who married was not dismissed from the school. The first male student was not admitted until 1964. Fitzgerald's requirements for admission seem strict now, but in 1914 followed the guidelines already established by the best training schools in the country. The early program that Fitzgerald developed provided nurses-in-training with coursework as well as on-the-job training. Nursing students spent much time on the hospital wards, working under the supervision of the nursing supervisors. The coursework lasted three years. 12

The exact circumstances of Fitzgerald's departure remain vague. Years later Thurman Rice, a physician on the medical campus, would remember that Fitzgerald left the Training School because she could not cope with its rural surroundings. Available records, however, only indicate that after leaving Indiana University, Fitzgerald traveled to Europe, where she served as a nurse for wounded soldiers, first with the British Army and later with the American Red Cross. Perhaps she was attracted by the American Army’s nursing promotions, which romanticized wartime nursing in an attempt to ease staffing shortages. Fitzgerald later became the first Director of the Nursing Bureau of League of Red Cross Societies at Geneva, Switzerland. 13

Pioneer Women Physicians at Indiana University School of Medicine: Amelia Keller and Jane Merrill Ketcham

The beginnings of professionalized medicine in the early nineteenth century resulted in the exclusion of women from medical practice. Whereas for centuries women had worked as skilled healers and midwives, male physicians excluded women from entrance at early nineteenth century medical schools. By 1835, a few brave women, beginning with physicians Harriot K. and Sarah Hunt, began to challenge these restrictions. The Hunt sisters almost immediately aroused hostility from male physicians and potential patients. Years later, Harriot recalled, "If I had had cholera, hydrophobia, smallpox, or any malignant disease, I could not have been more avoided than I was." 14 This type of reaction would characterize male reactions to female physicians' intrusion on their domain for the next one hundred years.

The struggle to gain access to the medical profession continued throughout the nineteenth century. Many mainstream medical institutions refused to admit women. As a result, the few women wishing to obtain medical degrees often enrolled at sectarian institutions. Because these institutions were already outside the mainstream, practicing eclectic medicine, and because they tended to advocate the types of moderate healing already practiced by women, these institutions were more open to female students. 15 By the 1850s, separate female medical schools also began to emerge, although until the 1870s they did not tend to have strong programs in theoretical medicine. Additionally, by the end of the nineteenth century, some previously male-dominated medical schools also became co-educational. As a result of all of these opportunities, the number of female medical students rose immensely in the last decades of the nineteenth century, although their percentages in the field numbered only 4-5% 16

While opportunities to study medicine had increased, opportunities for women to practice medicine remained limited. Early female physicians often worked at city hospitals, providing care for the sick poor. However, as new hospital technologies resulted in a shift from home care to hospital care among more wealthy individuals, male physicians became interested in hospital positions. As a result of this competition, female physicians were displaced from hospitals and retreated to home-office practices. 17

Additionally, co-educational medical schools continued to remain hostile towards the admittance of women faculty. 18 Very few female physicians obtained faculty positions at these institutions. Despite these great obstacles, a few amazing female physicians obtained positions on the staff of the Indiana University School of Medicine in its earliest years.

Amelia Keller

"Amelia Keller," taken from Jacob Piatt Dunn,
Indiana & Indianians (American Historical Society, 1919)
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

In describing Keller's contributions to the advancement of women, Grace Julian Clarke declared, “Woman’s world is now man’s world, and it was his failures and her needs which have brought them together to form a world better than any yet known.” 19 Keller's participation in medicine, politics, and social organizations would indeed open many new doors to women in Indianapolis.

When Keller joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1908, she became its first female faculty member. In 1906, Keller had joined the faculty of the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons in Indianapolis. When it merged to form the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1908, Keller retained a position as a faculty member at the new school. Around the turn of the century, female physicians were rarely welcomed onto university hospital staffs, but Dr. Keller proved to be an exception, serving as an associate professor of pediatrics until 1918. Among women choosing to specialize, many chose pediatric medicine because the care of children had traditionally been accepted as a woman’s role. 20

Many early female physicians in the United States were staunch feminists, and Keller was no exception. In 1899 when she married Dr. Eugene Buehler, Keller continued to use her maiden name. Her feminism was also evident in her great interest in woman's suffrage. When the Woman's Franchise League of Indiana organized in 1911, Keller became its first president. She retained this position until 1917, and succeeded in extending the league statewide. Keller also edited the suffrage department column of The Citizen magazine and actively campaigned to have women represented on the Indianapolis Board of Education. 21

Besides her work as a physician and suffragette, Keller was also an active clubwoman. She served as vice-president of the Indiana Federation of Clubs, was a member of the Local Council of Women, and was a charter member of the Women's Rotary Club in Indianapolis. 22

Jane Merrill Ketcham

"Dr. Jane Ketcham, n.d.,”
Jessie Groves Collection, MS58-00194
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

After graduating from Indiana Medical College in 1906, Ketcham practiced general medicine for six years before joining the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1912. Like Keller, Ketcham was a pioneer female physician at Indiana University, although she despised such titles and did not consider herself to be particularly unique. “Don’t you dare call me a pioneer woman doctor,” she warned one Indianapolis Star journalist in 1960. 23 At Indiana University, Ketcham became a professor of clinical medicine, although she primarily practiced in obstetrics.

While Amelia Keller's feminism led her to become a suffragette, Jane Merrill Ketcham used her feminism to practice social medicine. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century, many female physicians used their skills to offer free healthcare to the poor. As women began to search for ways to extend their influences outside the home, many began to believe that medical care was a natural extension of women's roles. Some opened their own dispensaries while others volunteered at these institutions. By the early 1900s, while many women continued to volunteer their time to the care of the poor through traditional means, new roles in social medicine also emerged. For example, in the Progressive Era, a new emphasis on public health education resulted in positions for female physicians within the newly formed Public Health Services Bureau. 24

As a woman with a social conscience, Ketcham spent many years providing free healthcare to those in need. She served as a house doctor at a home for unwed mothers. She also provided free care to victims of Indianapolis's 1913 flood, after the university asked her to take charge of the flood relief hospital at Manual Training High School. Years later, in 1933, she would do the same in Jeffersonville, traveling by boat in search of smallpox victims. 25

Regardless of Keller and Ketcham’s presence in the School of Medicine, female students remained a distinct minority. Overall, most female physicians did not achieve the success characteristic of Keller or Ketcham's lives. Women's experiences at the same institutions could be divided, as oral history interviews prove some women at the Indiana University School of Medicine remembered experiencing discrimination while others did not. Olga Bonke-Booher, for example, stated, “Whoever says there’s not discrimination is all wrong…I was told my freshman year by one of the professors who said, ‘Well, I thought you’d get married.” 26

Often faced with discrimination, teasing, or isolation, female medical students continued to be a minority in medical programs nationwide. 27 As a counter to this negative environment, female physicians in Indianapolis began a medical sorority for students, who would meet periodically at the doctors' homes. Dr. Keller and Dr. Ketcham were among those to facilitate this organization, although students later recalled that Ketcham was very stern and not very encouraging. Perhaps this is where she got her nickname as the "Dean of Indianapolis Women Physicians." 28

Edna Henry
Founder and Director of the Social Service Department at the IU Medical Center

Edna Henry, n.d..jpg
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

The department of social services at the Indiana University Medical Center had its origins in the development of professional training for medical and social workers. The professionalization of social work began in the 1870s with the organization of systematized charitable societies and later expanded into the settlement house movement of the 1890s. By the turn of the century, a demand for training led to the opening of the first full-time social work program at the New York School of Philanthropy. Many other schools soon developed their own programs. 29

Medical colleges had been in existence for the better part of the previous century by the time training schools for social work opened. In the 1890s John Hopkins University began to offer medical students some experience providing social services to their patients, but it was not until 1905, the year after the opening of the first school of social work, that Massachusetts General Hospital began the country’s first program in medical social work. In 1910, when Ulysses G. Weatherly, head of the department of Economics and Social Sciences at IU Bloomington proposed to President William Lowe Bryan that a similar program be implemented at the Indiana University Medical Center, the field of medical social work was still in its infancy. 30

In June 1911, Indiana University President William Lowe Bryan wrote a letter to Edna Henry asking if she would take a position establishing a sub-department of the Bloomington Department of Sociology at the Medical Center. The new department would “study charity problems in connection with the city dispensary and later in connection with the city hospital, and also in order to render service to the deserving poor who come to the medical school for assistance.” 31 It may seem unusual now for a university president to seek out candidates for a job, but in the first decades of the twentieth century, hiring at the Medical Center was often an informal process.

Edna Henry was the perfect woman for the job. Henry received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1897, and had subsequently founded the Associated Charities of Anderson. She had also worked as an assistant in the social service department of the Indianapolis Public Schools. Henry later obtained her masters and doctorate degrees while working at the Medical Center. 32

Henry began establishing the department in September 1911, and spent the first year establishing connections, building a curriculum, and collecting case records for teaching and research. She succeeded in creating a successful social work program that not only provided students with practical experience but also offered the city much-needed social services. When the Robert Long Hospital opened in 1914, Henry’s offices were housed in the hospital. By the 1915-1916 school year, IU had temporarily fallen on hard times and the department’s budget was reduced to $5000. Henry succeeded in reorganizing the school to offer more formal courses under the new budget restrictions. 33

Henry dedicated her entire life to social work. In conjunction with her work at the Medical Center, Henry organized a city dispensary to aid those in need. When the volume of work became too enormous for her to handle, Henry helped found the Indianapolis Advisory Committee of the Social Service Department, a group of women who oversaw the dispensary’s work. The War Chest of Indianapolis, a group that organized in 1918 to provide aid during World War I, eventually funded the work of the dispensary committee. The War Chest later reorganized as the Community Chest of Indianapolis. 34

At the close of World War I, Henry was invited to Washington D.C. to organize medical social service work in the army. She took a leave of absence from the Medical Center and served a term as supervisor of reconstruction aids in the Surgeon General’s office. Henry also became the first president of the American Association of Hospital Social Workers and the first treasurer of the Marion County Tuberculosis Association. She was also a member of numerous charitable societies. 35

In 1921, after ten years of developing medical social work at Indiana University Medical Center, Henry resigned from her position as director due to failing health. She continued teaching classes in her home until 1926. 36 Henry died in June 1942.



1 Rice, 139-141; Gray, 14-15.

2 Dorcas Rock, A History of the Indiana University Training School for Nurses (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 1956): 16.

3 Philip A. and Beatrice J. Kalisch, American Nursing A History, Fourth Edition (Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004), 30-1, 33; Susan M. Reverby, Ordered to Care the Dilemma of American Nursing, 1850-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 3-4, 47.

4 Dotaline E. Allen, History of Nursing in Indiana (Indianapolis, IN: Wolfe Publishing Company, 1950), 13-14; 51-2; 56.

5 Kalisch, 83-4, 89, 97-8.

6 Ibid, 98.

7 Nellie Brown, "Early History of Indiana University School of Nursing," Dictated Feb 24, 1951 in Box 1, School of Nursing Records, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis; "History," Box 68, School of Nursing Records.

8 Rock, 17.

9 Ibid, 19

10 Rock, 17, 19; "April Showers Bring…Distinguished Guests," The Hopper 1, no. 6 (April/May 1959): 8, Box 2, School of Nursing Records; Alice Fitzgerald, R.N., Vite, Box 3, School of Nursing Records; History, Box 68, School of Nursing Records.

11 "History", Box 68, School of Nursing Records

12 First Announcement of IU Training School for Nurses, 1915, Box 10, School of Nursing Records; Mary Louise Masters Yesselman, Letter, Box 68; Alice Hardy Grubs, Letter, Box 68.

13 Rock, 17, 19; Kalisch, 199, 205, 217-18, 222; “April Showers Bring…Distinguished Guests,” 6; Alice Fitzgerald, R.N., Vite.

14 Ellen S. More, Restoring the Balance Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999): 13-15, 4, 19-23; Regina Markell Morantz-Sanchez, Sympathy and Science Women Physicians in American Medicine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 18, 49, 64-5, 67, 85, 88, 113; Mary Roth Walsh "Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply" Sexual Barriers in the Medical Profession, 1835-1975 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 1, 2, 5, 14-15.

15 More, 13-15, 19-23; Morantz-Sanchez, 49.

16 Morantz-Sanchez, 11, 49, 64-5, 67, 85; Walsh, 178-9.

17 More, 96-8, 105-8, 123-4; Morantz-Sanchez, 160.

18 Morantz-Sanchez, 160.

19 “Woman Among First on Faculty List,” Indianapolis News, 31 August 1976, p.9 c.1.

20 “Woman Among First on Faculty List;” “Women Leaders,” Indianapolis Star Magazine, 28 March 1976, p. 28 c. 4; “Dr. Amelia Keller Dies in Hospital,” Indianapolis Star, 29 January 1943; More, 170, 172-3, 181.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 “Dr. Jane, After Long Career, Semi-Retired,” Indianapolis Star, 24 April 1960, Sec. 5 p. 9 c. 1; “Dr. Jane M. Ketcham, Dies Here At Age 90,” Indianapolis Star, 24 September 1970, p. 60 c. 3.

24 More, 62-3, 79, 80-3.

25 “Dr. Jane, After Long Career, Semi-Retired.”

26 Olga Bonke-Booher, Oral History Interview, 16-17, Box 1, Folder 8, Indiana Medicine Oral History Project Records, M 697, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN.

27 Morantz-Sanchez, 243, 313-314; More, 148.

28 “Dr. Jane, After Long Career, Semi-Retired;” “Dr. Jane M. Ketcham, Dies Here At Age 90.”

29 Robyn Muncy, Creating a Female Dominion in American Reform 1890-1935 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), xii-xiii, 66-7.

30 Lois Ann Piepho, The History of the Social Service Department of the Indiana University Medical Center, 1911-1932 (Thesis, Indiana University, 1950), 5-7.

31 William Lowe Bryan to Edna Henry, Correspondence with William Lowe Bryan 1912-15, School of Social Work Files, UA 057, Box 1, Ruth Lily Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI.

32 “Edna G. Henry, Social Worker,” Indianapolis Star, 6 June 1942; Edna Henry Clipping File, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives.

33 H.C. Roger, Seventy Years of Social Work Education at Indiana University (Indianapolis: Indiana University School of Social Work, 1983), 15-16; “Edna G. Henry, Social Worker.”

34 Roger, 19; Dispensary Aid Committee Folders, School of Social Work, UA 057, Box 1, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives.

35 Edna Henry Clipping File, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives; “Edna G. Henry, Social Worker.”

36 Roger, 31.


List of Sites


Site 1: Robert Long Hospital (LO) 1110 W. Michigan St.


Site 2: William H. Coleman Hospital for Women (CF)
1140 W. Michigan St.


Site 3: Ball Nurses’ Residence (BR)
1226 W. Michigan St.


Site 4: Riley Hospital for Children (RI)
702 Barnhill Dr.


Site 5: Fesler Hall (FH)
1120 South Dr.


* Site 6: Bobbs Merrill Company Building
122 E Michigan St


Site 7: Cavanaugh Hall (CA)
425 University Blvd.


Site 8: Natatorium (PE)
901 W. New York St.


Site 9: Eskenazi Hall (HR) (Herron School of Art)
735 W. New York St.


Site 10: Education/Social Work Building (ES)
902 W. New York St.


Site 11: University Library (UL)
755 W. Michigan St.


* Site 12: IUPUI Center for Women
1317 W Michigan St


Site 13: Lawrence W. Inlow Hall (IH) (School of Law)
530 W. New York St.


Site 14: Administrative Building (AO)
355 N. Lansing St.



(* former sites)

© Website Copyright 2007, Amy Schramm
© Content Copyright 2007, Mary Owen
For educational use only