Mary Southcott collection
This collection consists of handwritten essays and notes, and photographs by Mary Southcott, founder of the St. John's General Hospital School of Nursing. The essays and notes are about the pioneering days of nursing. There are essays about Florence Nightingale's work at Scutari and in England as well as descriptions of nursing in Newfoundland, both at the General Hospital in St. John's, and the tuberculosis camp. Some of her essays were published in British nursing journals. Internal evidence also indicates that Southcott was the Newfoundland correspondent for The Nursing Times for a number of years. Southcott was a keen amateur photographer. The photographs include pictures taken at the General Hospital, at the Waterford Hall convalescent hospital for soldiers during the first World War, and while on vacation in Newfoundland and Ontario. Many of these photographs are identified by comments written on the back by Southcott; however some are not. Although a small collection, these papers provide insight into the beliefs and attitudes of one of the most influential leaders in the history of nursing in Newfoundland.
Mary Meager Southcott was born at 56 Prescott Street in St. John's on September 21, 1862, the eldest of three daughters of Pamela and John Southcott who had emigrated to Newfoundland from Exeter, England. Mary had two sisters, Agnes who married Rev. William Netten, and Annie who married Frederick Parnell. Their father was a successful architect and builder who was in partnership with his brother, James T. Southcott in the firm of J. and J.T. Southcott. Mary Southcott was baptized in the Church of England Cathedral by Bishop Edward Feild and educated at Jersey Lodge, a Church of England girls' school on King's Bridge Road in St. John's. By 1897 both her parents had died and Mary Southcott had inherited her father's share of the Southcott business. Little is known of Mary Southcott's life before she decided to become a nurse. She had a keen interest in botany and throughout her life explored the countryside around St. John's making drawings of the local flora. Watercolours painted by Southcott still survive in private collections. It was through her interest in wildflowers and her involvement with the Church of England community that Southcott became acquainted with Rev. Arthur Waghorne (1851-1900). Waghorne was born in England and was educated at St. Augustin's College, Canterbury. He came to Newfoundland in 1875 as a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and remained for 25 years. In a letter written to a friend on 24 August 1888, Waghorne announced that he had become engaged to Mary Southcott who had been helping him with his botanical work [...]