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Mary L. Keith

Mary L. Keith, "the outstanding woman in the field of hospital administration in America," was Superintendent of Rochester City Hospital (Rochester General) from 1901 to 1923. She was responsible for the reconstruction of the Hospital under the Eastman Gift of 1909 (Memorial 1948, Scrapbook Collection). Miss Keith was born in Elmwood, Massachusetts, on April 10, 1865. At age twenty, she entered Boston Training School for Nurses (later called Massachusetts General School of Nursing) over her parents' protests. She graduated in 1888. According to C. G. Parnell, M.D., the final note on her training record read, "Well-educated, refined, intelligent, thoroughly satisfactory throughout the course. Make an efficient head nurse."

Between 1889 and 1901, Miss Keith held several managerial positions with Boston hospitals, completing the period as Director of Nursing for The Boston Lying-In Hospital. In 1901, she came to Rochester, replacing Miss Sophia Palmer. During her tenure at Rochester City Hospital, she established a formal Department of Nursing and oversaw the construction of a new, modern hospital, Rochester General Hospital. The project included building twelve new buildings on a campus of fifteen and doubling the bed capacity. She saw the Hospital through World War I, the Flu Epidemic, and labor strikes, as well as hiring the first social worker. Upon retirement after twenty-three years, she returned to her family home in Elmwood. She continued to be a civic leader, serving as president of the Village and Women's clubs and as a trustee of the East Bridewater Public Library. She was an avid amateur photographer, and left behind a record of her hometown as well as photographs of the Hospital. Miss Keith died April 3, 1948. (courtesy Patricia Keith Schnieder)