British Columbia Ancestors: Medical Life in the early 20th Century

Was your British Columbia ancestor in the medical profession? One of the great resources I stumbled on at the University of British Columbia Archives (UBC) is the collection History of Nursing in Pacific Canada. Don’t let the Collection name fool you though. If your ancestor was a doctor or hospital administrator, you may find them in here too.

The Collection is a collaboration with the UBC, the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing, and the B.C. History of Nursing Society. It’s a work in progress, with almost 800 digitized items in the Collection currently. Among the items you can view are moving images, still images, and textual records. For the purpose of the bog post, I’m just going to concentrate on the textual records.

Lyle Creeman Letters and Journals

Lyle Creeman was a Canadian Nurse. She was born in Nova Scotia, and trained as a nurse in British Columbia. She travelled the world in her capacity as a medical officer of health for the World Health Organization. You can read more about this legendary woman here. In the collection are a series of letters she wrote to her mother. The letters are a great read by themselves. But within the letters are mentions of other people, some Canadian. So just because you aren’t lucky enough to have Lyle in your tree doesn’t mean you should overlook them. The also have digitized her journals.

Also in the collection are correspondence and papers connected to two other pioneering women, Laura Holland and Ethel Johns.

British Columbia’s Hospital Association

There are 13 annual publications of the Association. The bulk of each issue deals with recounting the minutes of the annual conference. There isn’t really anything on individual people, but there are names scattered throughout. The real value of this resource is to give context on what working in a hospital was like during the early 20th century

Vancouver Medical Association Bulletins

These cover from the mid 1920s to the mid 1950s. The majority of it consists of news that pertains to the medical community. But you can find other little nuggets of information on individual people as well. Here’s an example from July 1936

And just look at this obituary in November 1924 for Dr. Charles Woollard

If the medical ancestor you’re looking for served in World War II, then you know how hard it is to find information on WWII ancestors. Look at this great find in the News and Notes from November 1946

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