Descriptive Summary

Please see also our web exhibit featuring the Benoist Collection:

Repository: University of Virginia School of Nursing, Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Historical Inquiry

Extent: 1 Box

Language: English

Donated by Jeanette Waits

Biographical Information

Caroline H. Benoist was born on March 12, 1896, in Natchez, Mississippi, to Julia and Louis Benoist. She graduated from Stanton College in Natchez and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She entered John Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1925.

After graduation, she became a surgical nurse at the Wilmer Eye Clinic at John Hopkins and later worked as a surgical nurse in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  She returned to Natchez, Mississippi, and did limited private nursing duty. In 1936, she became one of the first public health nurses in Mississippi; her emphasis was on maternal and child health care.

She acquired advanced preparation in public health nursing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and in-home delivery services at Chicago Lying-In-Hospital. After that, she initiated a program at Pike County Health Department to assist physicians with home deliveries, and taught and supervised lay “granny midwives.”  In the 1940s, Ms. Benoist was assigned to a specialized venereal disease program. An incubator that she designed and used as a public health nurse in Sunflower County is now in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Ms. Benoist retired from nursing in 1944 to care for her aged mother. She died on August 23, 2000, at the age of 104 in Natchez, Mississippi.

Scope and Content

Flashback Friday - a group of lay midwives gather on the Canton, MS, courthouse steps - Benoist collection in the Bjoring Center

Lay midwives gather for a county meeting in front of the courthouse in Canton, Miss., in the 1920s. Caroline Benoist Collection.

The C. Benoist Collection comprises Mississippi Public Health nursing reports, printed lectures given at Mississippi State Nursing Association meetings, printed material containing both prenatal and post-partum maternity instructions, nurse training manuals and nursing procedure handouts, professional correspondence, health statistics, and newspapers clippings from that time period. Well represented is time Ms. Benoist spent at the Chicago Lying-In-Hospital and as a public health nurse in Sunflower, Mississippi. In addition to extensive information about nursing care of maternity patients are medical concerns and treatments of such diseases as tuberculosis, polio, syphilis and diphtheria. Also included is the particular history of midwifery in the United States.

Series Description

Folder 1:         Biography on Caroline H. Benoist, (1896-2000), 1 sheet

Folder 2:         Routine prenatal visit – copied from Child Welfare and Community Health Association, New Orleans, February 21, 1934.  (8) typewritten sheets, includes diagram and instructions on constructing a premature box

Folder 3:         Trends in Public Health Nursing in Rural Schools by Mary B. DeLas, R. N., read at the Mississippi State Nurses’ Association meeting on November 9, 1937, Greenville, Mississippi. (4) typewritten sheets

Folder 4:         Health statistics on Nashville, Tennessee public schools. Appended from General Office, Hume-Fogg High School, Nashville, Tennessee, 1937 (1) sheet

Folder 5: 1.    Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service Delivery Demonstration, Lying-In-Hospital On Home Service. Chicago, llinois.  1938 (5) typewritten sheets 

Folder 5:2       Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service Delivery Demonstration, Lying-In-Hospital On Home Service. Chicago, Illinois.  1936 (7) typewritten sheets

Folder 5:3       Home Delivery Service: The Chicago Lying-In-Hospital and Dispensary, in affiliation with the University of Chicago. (pamphlet) includes notes, c.1935

Folder 6:         The Fourth Annual Report of the Chicago Maternity Center, covers July1, 1935 to June 30, 1936. Chicago, Ill.  Booklet includes graphics, statistics & names of contributors.

Folder 7:         Notes on the meeting of the American Public Health Association, by Margaret M. Meade R. N., Mississippi State Nurses Association meeting on November 9, 1937, in Greenville, Mississippi. (2) typewritten sheets.

Folder 8:         Instructions to patients for postnatal care, (1) sheet

Folder 9:         Trimester care for maternity nursing service, (2) pages typewritten sheets.

Folder 10:1     Patient scheduling procedures, Stock Yard Dispensary, Chicago, Illinois. (1) typewritten sheet

Folder 10:2     Outline of lectures and demonstrations given at the Stock Yard Dispensary, The Chicago Lying-In-Hospital and Dispensary in affiliation with the University of Chicago, Illinois. (8) typewritten sheets

Folder 10:3     Home Service Procedure Book: General Instructions to Student Nurses Chicago Lying-In-Hospital and Dispensary, Chicago, Illinois, c. 1938 (21) typewritten sheets

Folder 11:1     General Rules for Health in Children Two to Six Years, Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, 4-1-1935, Chicago, Illinois. Pamphlet (graphics included)

Folder 11:2     Preparation of Egg Yolk for Infants under One Year, Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, Nov. 1934, (1) typewritten sheet

Folder  12:      Correspondence from E. P. Bowerman, Assistant Health Officer, Gibson County Department of Public Health, Trenton, Tennessee, regarding regulations on nursing assistance for home deliveries of county residents, October 15, 1937.

 Folder 13:1     Instructions for packing of leather maternity bag,

                        Instructions for packing of fiber bag, typewritten sheet

                        Diagram of leather bag, handwritten sheet

                        Diagram of fiber bag, handwritten sheet

                        Diagram of premature box, Department of Public Health, Nashville, Tennessee

                        Print, State of Tennessee Department of Public Health, Nashville, Tennessee (5) typewritten sheets & diagrams

Folder 13.2          Instructions on making packs for delivery, (2) handwritten notes

Folder 13.3          Instructions for preparation for delivery, (2) typewritten sheets

Folder 13.4          Instructions of preparation for delivery, Pike County Health Dept. (1) typewritten sheet

Folder 13.5          Instructions on delivery service techniques and equipment, copy from Gibson County, Tennessee, material, March1938, (2) typewritten sheets     

Folder 14:       Instructions for infant care from the Tennessee Department of Public Health, adapted from East Harlem Nursing and Health Science, 1936

            14:1     What the Baby Has Learned: The Six Months Level, (1) typewritten sheet

            14:2     Fruits For the Baby, (1) typewritten sheet

            14:3     The Best Food for The Baby: Should be the Mother’s Milk (1) typewritten sheet

,           14:4     Eggs for the Baby, (1) typewritten sheet

            14:5     Training For the Bowel Movement, (1) typewritten sheet

            14:6     Habits of Sleep for the Baby, (1) typewritten sheet

            14:7     The Baby’s Teeth, (1) typewritten sheet

Folder 15:       Home Nursing Series No. 3: Care and Precautions in Handling Certain Communicable or Contagious Diseases, published by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York. Pamphlet (2) pgs.

Folder 16:       What the Baby Has Learned at Nine Months, from the Tennessee Department of Public Health, adapted from East Harlem Nursing and Health Science, 1936, (1) typewritten sheet.

Folder 17:       Home Treatment for Pediculosis, (1) typewritten sheet

Folder 18:       The Rules and Regulations Governing Communicable Diseases, from the Mississippi State Board of Health, signed by Felix J. Underwood, M. D., Secretary and Executive Officer, June 27, 1935, booklet (29) pgs.

Folder 19:       Control of Communicable Diseases, U. S. Treasury Department Reprint No. 1697 from the Public Health Reports, Vol. 50, No. 32, August 9, 1935, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1935. Signed by C. Benoist, April 1936, Indianola, Mississippi. Book (60) pgs. (cover is missing)

Folder 20:       Suggestions Relative to Nursing Communicable Diseases, Read by Dr. W. H. Cleveland, Director of Lee County Health Department, North East Mississippi Thirteen County Nurse Association meeting in Tupelo, Mississippi, on April 14, 1937, (3) typewritten sheets

Folder 21:       Conduct of the Poliomyelitis Clinic inJ ackson by Elise Smith, R. N. Notes given at the Mississippi State Nurses Association Meeting on November 9, 1937 in Greenville, Mississippi, (5) typewritten sheets

Folder 22:       A Critical View of Nurses and Nursing Programs by Felix J. Underwood, M. D. Executive Officer of Mississippi State Board of Health, notes read at American Public Health Association meeting Kansas City, Missouri, Oct. 25-28, 1938 (6) typewritten sheets

Folder 23:       The Graduate Nurse as a Health Messenger by Opal Regan, R.N., notes on speech given at Mississippi State Nurses’ Association meeting on November 9, 1937 in Greenville, Mississippi, (2) typewritten sheets.

Folder 24:       Chart on child development: Family Health Series, Guide for Public Health Nurses, A. I. C. P. Bureau of Educational Nursing, New York, Revised ed. February 1936, booklet (5) pages, cover missing    

Folder 25:       The Chicago Lying-In Hospital & Dispensary, Chicago, Illinois  

Folder 25:1     Standing Orders: Recommendations for patient care post-partum, (1) typewritten sheet

Folder 25:2     Procedures for social services for patients of Lying-In Hospital, in affiliation with University of Chicago. November 1, 1936, (2) typewritten sheets

Folder 25:3     The Chicago Lying-In Hospital and Dispensary, booklet, includes photographs and brief history of the hospital.

Folder 26:       Excerpts from Nurses’ Narrative Reports from Various Counties, Mississippi State Board of Health, Bureau of Child Hygiene and Public Health Nursing, August 1937. (29) typewritten sheets

Folder 27:       A Guide in the Field Training of Nurses for Public Health Nurses, Lauderdale County Health Department, Meridian, Mississippi, Second Edition, January 1941 workbook, book (54) pages.  Includes forward by N.C. Knight M.D. H., Director, & Opal Regan, R. N., Supervising Nurse, includes bibliography (cover ripped)

Folder 28:       Diphtheria information

Folder 28:1     Diphtheria: A Neighborly Disease by Dr. George H. Weaver, Reprinted from HYGEIA, the Health Magazine, April 1924, revised May 1931, American Medical Association, Chicago. booklet (23) pages, includes graphics.

Folder 28:2     Copeland Praises Diphtheria Toxoid: Doctor Says All Children Should be Inoculated by Royal S. Copeland M.D, Former Commissioner of Health, newspaper clipping

Folder 29:       Our Syphilis Problem and How to Deal With It by Dr. D. V. Galloway, read at the Mississippi State Nurses Association Meeting November 9, 1937 at Greenville, Mississippi, (6) typewritten pages

Folder 30:       Mississippi State Board of Health Diphtheria publications

Folder 30.1     Diphtheria Inoculation Reminder to Parents, Indianola, Mississippi, leaflet. Graphics included. Signed by H.B. Cattrell, M.D. County Health Officer

Folder 30.2     Diphtheria and Its Annual Toll, Mississippi State Board of Health, Felix J. Underwood, M.D., State Health Officer, c.1930s.

Folder 31:1     Simplicity in Health Teaching by Maud A. Brown, Reprinted from HYGEIA October 1927, American Medical Association, Chicago. booklet (15) pages, includes graphics

Folder 31:2     Toilet Habits I: Training for Control of Bladder, Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, August 1, 1935, handout, form I

Folder 31:3     Toilet Habits II: Training for Control of Bladder, Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, August 1, 1935, handout, form II

Folder 31:4     Directions for administering tomato juice, cod liver oil and orange juice to infants, Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, March 1, 1936, handout

Folder 32:1    County Health Report: Sunflower County Health Department, Indianola, Mississippi, R. F. Mayer, M. D., Director, January 1940. (2) typewritten sheets including statistical summary

Folder 32:2    County Health Report: Sunflower County Health Department, Indianola Mississippi, R. F. Mayer, M. D., Director, March 1940. (2) typewritten sheets. Includes statistical summary

Folder 33:       Tuberculosis Guide, published by A. I. C. P., New York, June 1, 1935. pamphlet (8) pgs, includes bibliography, types of tuberculosis, mental and legal aspects of tuberculosis (cover missing)

Folder 34:       Purpose of School Health Committees, (2) hand written sheets

Folder 35:1     Excerpts reports from Mississippi Public Health Nurses in respective counties, Mississippi State Board of Health, September 1938. (33) typewritten sheets

            35:2     Mississippi maternal and infant mortality statistics from 1930 to 1937 taken from the U. S. Bureau of the Census, (1) typewritten sheet 

Folder 36:       1 CD & (2) photos of C. Benoist taken c. 1980s demonstrating the incubator she helped invent

Folder 37:       American Red Cross, Gulf Division, Women's Bureau: certification card for preparation of surgical dressings, May 20, 1918

Folder 38:       Benoist correspondence, 1940-41.

                        38:01   Mary D. Osborne to Caroline Benoist, 1940 November 22.

                        38:02   Claudia Johnson to doctor, 1941 August 31.

                        38:03   Mary Williams to Sunflower County Health Department, 1941 November 12.

                        38:04   Mauna Rey Bryan to Mrs. Benoist, 1941 December 19.

Folder 39:       Johns Hopkins hospital materials

                        39:01   Notes on nursing procedures, 1931, n.d.

                        39:02   Hospital forms, 1935, 1936, n.d.

                        39:03   Nursing class song lyrics, n.d.

Folder 40:       Pamphlets:  insurance industry publications

                        40:01   Home Care of Communicable Diseases, 1936.

                        40:02   Pneumonia: Its Care and Prevention, 1937.

                        40:03   Handbook on Nursing Care of Pneumonia, c. 1936.

Folder 41:       Pamphlets:  Mississippi publications

                        41:01   Manual for Midwives, Mississippi State Board of Health, 1922.

                        41:02    How You Get T.B., Mississippi Tuberculosis Association, n.d.

Folder 42:       Pamphlets: national publications

                        42:01   Infant Care, U.S. Department of Labor, Children's Bureau, 1914.

                        42:02   Information for Nurses Desiring to Enroll with the American Red Cross, 1925.

Folder 43:       Photographs (3), 1939, n.d.

Folder 44:       Post-Partum Exercise Information Sheets, n.d.

Folder 45:       U.S. Department of Labor, Children's Bureau: Pregnancy Record Form, n.d.