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University Archives and History

Susanne B. Hoskins

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About Susanne B. Hoskins

Susanne Breckinridge Hoskins was born in September 1871 in Versailles, Kentucky, the daughter of Civil War Colonel Jesse E. Hoskins and Theodosia Mosby Hoskins. Nothing is known of her early years, with primary background material available beginning at the approximate age of thirty-six years. She received nurses’ training at the Connecticut Training School for Nurses, New Haven, Connecticut, and was employed from 1915 to mid-1917 at the National Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, D.C.


ImageDuring the First World War, she served in the American National Red Cross, Children’s Bureau, France, in Evian-les-Bains and Lyon, nursing many small children, the sick, and elderly refugees from areas of that country overrun by German forces. Her service tenure began there in September 1917 and ended after peace was declared in 1918 and American militarized relief forces were evacuated from France in January 1919. She continued her association with the American Red Cross late into the 1940s.


After the war, Miss Hoskins was employed at various institutions throughout the United States, including: Gordon-Keller Memorial Hospital, Tampa, Florida; Mary Lanning Hospital, Hastings, Nebraska; Passavant Memorial Hospital, Jacksonville, Illinois; and Mecklenburg Hospital, Plainfield, New Jersey. Her moves were frequent, apparently coinciding with those made by her sister, Letitia Hoskins Menge, in an effort to be within close distance of each other. It was known that, as a nurse, Miss Hoskins was efficient and quite capable, most often holding supervisory positions where employed.


She returned to Guilford County in the late 1930s and was involved in local private-duty nursing, taking nursing calls at Wesley Long Hospital and with several city physicians. Miss Hoskins lived the domestic life of a spinster and died in October 1960 at the age of 89.


It is notable that Miss Hoskins was a descendant of Joseph Hoskins, a Quaker who settled in Guilford County in 1780, having migrated from Pennsylvania. He acquired land on which the Revolutionary War Battle of Guilford Courthouse was later to be fought; his homeplace would also come to shelter the headquarters of Lord Cornwallis, British commander of this military expedition. Through the years, the Hoskins family figured prominently in the Summerfield area, prospering as farmers and merchants to local trade.


About the collection

The Susanne B. Hoskins Papers reflect primarily the nature of Miss Hoskins’ career as a nurse, given to public and private service in the early twentieth century in the United States and in France during the First World War.


The bulk of this collection consists of personal correspondence and photographs and focuses on educational and medical data, and social activities arising from Miss Hoskins’ various terms of employment as a supervisor of nurses in hospitals and agencies where she worked. Of particular interest are letters to her sister, Letitia Hoskins Menge, written during her tenure in France as a relief nurse devoted to the care of refugees from war-torn regions of that country. From her diaries and daybooks are taken accounts of her work there and elsewhere throughout 1913, 1917-19, and 1941-45; medical practices and patient cases are well-documented therein. In addition, information from the 1917-19 diary was compiled in manuscript form and, apparently, was sent to the Ladies’ Home Journal for possible publication.


The strength of the collection is found in Miss Hoskins’ candid and imaginative descriptions of the lively career and social activities of an unmarried and well-traveled nurse through the early and mid-years of the 1900s. Scenes of wartime France, early photos of surgical procedures (albums of New Haven and Washington years), family Civil War correspondence, and several handwritten notes from Winston Churchill (1919, 1930) mark the highlights of her personal papers. However, there exists a continuing lack of biographical data and no reference to important features such as proposed publication of the manuscript, “On The Outskirts: The Diary of a War Baby Nurse” or the receiving of letters from a personage of such renown as Churchill.



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