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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1102

Chester Hospital Training School for Nurses collection of Mary Alice MacKay, 1917-1965 (inclusive), 1917-1919 (bulk)


Scrapbook and other material documenting a residential training program for nurses in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


  • 1917-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1917-1919

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Mary Alice MacKay is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.42 linear feet ((1 file box) plus 1 folio+ folder)

Collection includes a scrapbook MacKay kept during her time at Chester Hospital Training School for Nurses. The scrapbook contains photographs of other nurses in training, lists of graduates and patients, daily diary entries, poems, and drawings. Upbeat entries describe the social lives of the nurses as well as their hospital work; MacKay records dorm fudge parties and trolley outings to Revere Beach, as well as numbers and photographs of babies delivered. MacKay's certificates of completion, a syringe kit she carried, and Chester Hospital Alumni Association material are also included.


Mary Alice Withycombe MacKay was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 30, 1898, to Canadian immigrants William R. and Mary Allen Withycombe. William R. Withycombe worked as a cooper; after his death Mary Allen Withycombe took in lodgers and her older children worked to support the family. After high school, Mary Alice Withycombe entered the Chester Hospital Training School for Nurses, on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. She trained there from January 1917 to 1919. She married high school teacher Leslie W. MacKay (1892-1961) in 1920; they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Nancy. The MacKays moved to Sanford, Maine shortly after their marriage; Mary Alice was a member of the Women's Board at the H.D. Goodall Hospital and was an accomplished rug hooker. She died in 1989 at the age of 90.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2020-M71

The Chester Hospital Training School for Nurses collection of Mary Alice MacKay was given to the Schlesinger Library by her granddaughter, Mary B. Young, in March 2020.

Processing Information

Processed: September 2020

By: Jenny Gotwals

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Mary Jeanette Ward Fund

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA