Site 3: BALL NURSES' RESIDENCE (BR)
1226 W. Michigan St.
"Ball Residence Hall Exterior, ca. 1927-1928," UA24-003528,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
Nursing students in the Training School were required to live on site, where their activities outside of hospital work could be monitored by house matrons or nursing supervisors. In the earliest years, finding adequate housing proved a big challenge. The first nurses lived at Long Hospital before the University purchased three houses nearby. Known as the "first, second, and third cottages," these houses soon ran out of room. No further houses were available near the hospital, so a fourth home was rented eight blocks away. By 1918, the lease expired and Fourth Cottage moved to 433 North Illinois Street, fifteen blocks from the hospital. From these longer distances, students were bussed to the hospital in a makeshift truck. A staff nurse lived at each site and acted as their chaperone. By 1917, the University began building two-story stucco cottages near Long Hospital. Additional housing was made available on the third floor of Riley Hospital. Even this housing was not sufficient to meet the demand. 1
The need for a larger, more unified space was finally made possible in February 1926 when George and Frank Ball of Muncie donated $500,000 for the construction of a nurses' home. Opened in October 1928, Ball Nurses' Residence housed a capacity of 165 nurses, allowing the Training School to admit more nursing students. Whereas in 1927, the training school admitted 28 new trainees, in 1928 they admitted 47. 2
The building housed classrooms for the nurses, offices for the instructors and director, living rooms, kitchenettes, laundry areas, bedrooms for faculty and students, and a gymnasium. Ball Nurses' Residence provided nursing students a place to hold activities and overall resulted in their ability to experience a more normal college experience. In the 1950s, for example, activities available at Ball included student government, water ballet, various sports, dances, and chorus. 3
A Nurse’s Life
Various. IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
In Indiana University School of Medicine’s early days, a few women earned staff positions as physicians, but the majority of the women present were those affiliated with the nurses’ training school. While it would evolve to become its own, separate accredited school in 1965, the original training school operated under the control of the School of Medicine.
Despite advances in technology, in the early twentieth century the majority of a nurse’s duties remained housekeeping, changing bed linens, washing babies, monitoring patient temperatures, changing dressings, and washing soiled clothing. Male orderlies would bathe male patients and help with other tasks considered improper for a female nurse. In addition, most student nurses were required to complete one day of night duty per week, with hours from 9PM to 6AM. Most lectures were taught by physicians, while nursing superintendents instructed students with on-the-job training. 4
The curriculum at the original Indiana University Training School for Nurses closely mirrored that of other nursing programs nationwide. Its curriculum focused mainly on simple tasks, including housekeeping, changing dressings, washing soiled clothing, and bathing patients. Student nurses at IU worked an eight hour day, but worked nine to twelve hours if assigned to night duty. Most of their classes were held in the east operating room of Long Hospital until Ball Nurses’ Residence opened in 1928. Classrooms were set up as practice hospitals, with beds, cribs, and dolls. Once the initial six-month probation period ended, student nurses worked in the hospital six and one half days per week with two weeks of vacation per year. 5
A nurse’s day began at 6:45 A.M. when she assembled for “Prayers” at Long Hospital. Morning prayers were not only a time for reflection, but also announcements, assignments, and the awarding of nursing caps, senior bars, and class pins. From there, a nurse would begin her work. While rules would change over the years, early nurses were not allowed to talk to their patients. Despite this restriction, a large number later recalled that they had still developed friendships. Many even used the big pockets of their uniform to sneak food to their patients. 6
A strict structure of seniority ruled the everyday lives of nurses in the IU Medical Center system. One nurse later recalled that seniority was observed in every aspect of daily life from seating in prayer services and classrooms to the occupation of elevators. If doctors and nurses were both waiting for an elevator, nurses were not allowed to enter unless there was additional room after the doctors had all entered the elevator. 7
Overall, nursing students had varied reasons for entering the program. In 1947 when a group of students were polled, answers ranged from “I knew that with such high entrance requirements it would be good” to “Medical and Dental schools here – good chances for dates” to “My mother is an R.N. from here.” 8
Ethel P. Clarke
Long-time Director of the Training School for Nurses
Oversaw Construction of Ball Nurses' Residence
"Ethel P. Clarke, bet. 1915 and 1931," UA24-005686,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
When Alice Fitzgerald resigned her position in 1915, Ethel P. Clarke became the new director. Born in England, Clarke had studied nursing at University of Maryland Training School for Nurses and Teacher's College at Columbia University. Unlike most of the early nursing directors and head nurses, Clarke had chosen to continue her profession in nursing after marrying Thomas Clarke. During her years as director, Clarke witnessed the development of the medical center from one lone hospital to a true campus of buildings, observing the construction of Emerson Hall, Riley Hospital for Children, the William H. Coleman Hospital for Women, Rotary Convalescent Home, and Ball Nurses’ Residence. 9
As the director in charge of nursing at the time construction began on Ball Nurses’ Residence, Clarke oversaw the building’s design. She also selected all of its furnishings and equipment. Under Clarke’s direction, the Training School for Nurses continued to grow. Clarke planned and organized entrance examinations for potential students. She also designed the school’s pin and added a cape to the uniform. When students approached Clarke with a plan to create an Alumnae Association and bring a chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau honorary society to campus, Clarke assisted in the development of both of these plans. 10
Students remembered Ethel Clarke as “very stately, dignified, and reserved and commanded the respect of everyone. She was also extremely critical and strict. At the same time she was most understanding and fair.” Clarke headed the nursing program until 1931, when she resigned to move with her husband to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she became director of nurses at the Bridgeport Hospital. 11
1 Rock, 26, 28; Brown, “Early History of Indiana University School of Nursing;” Helen F. Callon, "As I Remember Indiana University Training School for Nurses 1922-1925," 1, Box 7, School of Nursing Records.
2 Ann Marriner-Tomey, ed., Nursing at Indiana University 75 Years at the Heart of Health Care (Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University School of Nursing, 1989), 9-10; Rock, 55-7; Number of Graduates, 1917-1928, Box 1, School of Nursing Records.
3 Grubs, 4-5; The Hopper 1, no. 6 (April-May 1959); The Hopper 2, no. 2 (November 1959); The Hopper 1, no. 8 (May 1954); The Hopper 6, no, 2 (1958); The Hopper 6, no. 1 (October 1958).
4 Kalisch, 104, 106, 117-118, 119, 126-7; Reverby, 64.
5 Procedures Used by IU School of Nursing in the 1940s, Box 20, School of Nursing Records; Callon, 1, 2; Brown, “Early History of the IU School of Nursing;” Grubs, 4.
6 Grubs, 4; Callon, 1, 3.
7 Callon, 1.
8 Questions Asked Students Attending the Indiana University Training School for Nurses c. 1947, School of Nursing Records.
9 “Notice of Death: Ethel P. Clarke, First Director of School of Nursing,” Box 14, School of Nursing Records; “April Showers Bring…Distinguished Guests”
10 “Notice of Death: Ethel P. Clarke, First Director of School of Nursing;” Grubs, 5.
11 “Notice of Death, Ethel P. Clarke, First Director of School of Nursing;” “April Showers Bring…Distinguished Guests;” Letters – Various Former Nursing Students, Reminiscences, Box 68, School of Nursing Records.