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Nursing history show and tell: Issue 2

Mar 19, 2019
Guylaine Spencer

The McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences Archives houses several collections, including those of the McMaster School of Nursing. This is the second in a series of articles where we’ll be highlighting some of our historic treasures. 

Artifact: Margaret’s Bible

bible page with prayer

Photo above: The front of Margaret’s bible features the British flag and the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

bible cover

Photo above: The front cover of Margaret’s bible

This bible belonged to Margaret McGovern, a BScN student who graduated in 1957. Her maiden name was Millar.

Dr. Janet Landeen is leading a team of colleagues in writing a book about the history of the McMaster School of Nursing. “When we put out the call to alumni who wanted to contribute to the book, Margaret McGovern contacted me. I arranged to go and see her,” says Landeen.

“Margaret talked about her experiences and showed me some photographs and this bible. Back then, when students arrived at McMaster, they were each given a bible, because the university had strong ties to the Baptist church. McMaster University started as a Baptist college in Toronto to help educate Baptist preachers and provide Christian education. Eventually McMaster moved to Hamilton in 1927, and the school became secular in 1956.  During Margaret’s time at McMaster there was a gradual shift, but all first year students had to take bible studies. If they were Roman Catholic, which Margaret was, they had a Roman Catholic chaplain who taught them. They didn’t have to go to the Protestant classes. It took a while before the bible studies requirement was dropped in 1962. Margaret mentioned that in early days, being a Baptist college, alcohol was not allowed on campus, so students’ formals were held off campus.”



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