Each fall term, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Cheryl Tatano Beck, a world-renowned qualitative and mixed-methods researcher, introduces UConn School of Nursing Ph.D. students to historic archives and documents in her qualitative methods course.
Preparing her students in advance with a discussion of alumna Mary Ann Cordeau’s 2000 doctoral comprehensive examination paper “The Water-Cure Experiences of the Wolcott Family,” Beck arranges for a tour of the UConn Archives and Special Collections with Betsy Pittman, University Archivist and the archivist for nursing history collections.
Pittman provides manuscript material, part of the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, related to Ella Wolcott, who was both a nurse and a patient in the nineteenth century, which students review in a study room of the Thomas Dodd Center.
The doctoral students in Introduction to Qualitative Methodology (this semester including a student from the School of Business) “look through two archival cartons of historical documents of the Wolcott family and see the actual papers, letters, and photographs” on which Cordeau’s study was based, Beck explains. “Historical research comes alive for them.”
As one of Cordeau’s professors and as a colleague of the late Eleanor Krohn Herrmann, Beck leveraged her interest in nursing history (she is a member of the American Association for the History of Nursing) with their expertise in devising this pedagogical innovation.
Archivist Pittman explains, “The materials in the Dolan Collection pertaining to Civil War nursing are the most frequently requested nursing materials we hold.” And she also reminds us that this “collection also complements our ongoing interest in documenting the experiences of nurses during times of war or military nurses, particularly those with an association to the University of Connecticut or Connecticut in general.”