This Way Forward: Carolyn Conant Van Blarcom (1875-1961)

Spring 2015 As Seen in Our Spring 2015 Issue
This Way Forward: Carolyn Conant Van Blarcom (1875-1961)

Carolyn Conant Van Blarcom (seated, with infant) entered the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1898 as a “pupil nurse”—funny today, considering her pioneering work in preventing childhood blindness through better hygiene and infant and maternal care.

A belief in greater nurse and midwife training drove her career, from head nurse in Hopkins’ obstetrics wards to superintendent of nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis and the Maryland State Sanatorium for Tuberculosis, executive secretary of the New York Association for the Prevention of Blindness(she was the first trained nurse registered as a midwife with New York City’s Department of Public Health), and, by 1917, director of the Atlantic Division of the American Red Cross, outfitting and supplying nurses going overseas in World War I. She helped organize the curriculum for the first midwives school in the United States.

In 1922, Van Blarcom published the widely used textbook Obstetrical Nursing, later completing the advice books Getting Ready to be a Mother and Building the Baby. In 1926, she helped secure from her friend the E. Bayard Halsted Fund for research in bacteriology at Johns Hopkins University.

“The nurses whose skill is warmed by a sincere desire to give of their best will, by virtue of this very desire, learn something from each patient,” Van Blarcom once said, “and will be steadily enriched and broadened by their experiences.”

Source: Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe