Graham Hospital School of Nursing

Oral Histories

Voices of the Past

Oral Histories from Graham Hospital School of Nursing

In 2004, following a lively and informative conversation with the oldest surviving graduate of the Graham Hospital School of Nursing, the preservation of her reminiscences became a goal of the School. With the help and direction of a number of sources, including Alliance Library System and Sound Farm Productions, the School’s library staff began to investigate the feasibility of undertaking an oral history project to record the memories of its alumni with the aim to better understand not only the development of the School, but of the nursing profession in general. Funding from the Greater Midwest Region of the National Library of Medicine and the Illinois State Library provided the training, encouragement and financial assistance to take the original idea from a glorified tape recorded conversation to a more professional quality production.

The goal of the project has been to interview ten graduates of each decade the School has been in existence. A list of questions was created to work from so that responses could be compared within each decade and trends and changes could be ascertained. To begin, invitations to interview were sent to the remaining thirteen alumni who had graduated between 1929 and 1939, resulting in eight wonderful interviews. While most were conducted in the library of the School in Canton, Illinois, others were recorded in Cary, Illinois, Columbia, Maryland and Norfolk, Virginia. All of the alumni were in their nineties. And with those willing and able voices, the project began. Stories flowed about sneaking out of dormitories, working for tuition, caring for patients with Vaseline and Lysol, starched uniforms, lessons with doctors, and dealing with catastrophes. There were many surprises and a plethora of information as these women wove a story of their own lives and the life of the School.

Since that beginning, more than eighty interviews have been recorded, either by telephone or in person, along with a number of written replies to the interview questions and other correspondence. The oral history project, in conjunction with the Images in Nursing Education effort to digitize the photographs and documents in the School’s historical collection, have provided a previously unseen glimpse of the history of a rural, diploma RN nursing program that has spanned the century.

These efforts have been combined to create both a history of Graham Hospital School of Nursing, available on DVD and a CD collection of oral history excerpts including every graduate interviewed for the project. Both of these productions are available for purchase through the School of Nursing Office by calling 309- 647-4086.

The Oral History Collection 1930-2009


Frances Brasel, 1933
Lois Knickerbocker Watts, 1933
Edith Malmgren Beaver, 1937
Ethel Abbudusky Bowton, 1937
Kathryn Barclay, 1938
Bea Ryno Dominski, 1938
Helen Rogers Polich, 1938
Lorene Werry McMunn, 1939


Bernita (Reffett) Murphy 1941
Marian Jones 1942
Annabelle (Wilcoxen) Breckenridge 1943
Helen Howard Saunders 1943
Freda Blair 1945
Violet Wages 1945
Louise Byrum 1947
Annabell Curless 1947
Martha Stockberger 1948
Myrlene (Widger) Swinger 1949


Caroline Stine 1950
Frances Gibble Wright 1950
E. Lorraine Hinds 1951
Elsie Berk 1952
Caryl Harrison 1953
Gertrude Geier Schoon 1953
Eleanor Taylor 1954
Dorothy Haynes 1955
Jeanine Green 1956
Mary Jane Mathews 1959


Joyce Shover 1960 Reunion
Ruth Butterfield 1960 Reunion
Dorothy Marvell Hollandsworth 1960 Reunion
Darlyne Waylin Shyrock Ackers 1960 Reunion
Sandra Stanfel Rumler 1960 Reunion
Gloria Sprinkle Carroll 1960 Reunion
Jean Davis Westervelt 1960 Reunion
Colleen Brown 1961
Karen McLain Geysbeck 1961
Mary Wagner 1961
Carolyn Sue Wolf 1961
Linda Erich Booker 1963
Elizabeth Mercer 1963
Helen Vandament 1963
Melva Krey 1963
Rosemary McKee 1963
Sandy Styninger 1964
Carol Welch 1966
Susan Livingston 1968

Betty Stockov, Director


Judith Helle 1970
Judy Kemper 1972
Phyllis Hinderliter 1973
Linda Haynes 1973
Arthalene Widger 1974
Stephen Wagner 1976
Kathleen Williams 1978
Cindy Brown 1978
Kathy Marshall 1978
Judy Simmons-Juraco 1978
Denise Studer Tyler Roger 1978


Jan Keppler Dearing 1980
Krista Widger Cebuhar 1980
Michael Southwood 1972
Trudy Trobaugh 1972
Marilou Gaw 1986
Janet Kingsley 1987
Pamela Mayer Detweiler 1987
DiAnna Ault Selph Eskridge Kerley 1987
Sheila Hill Bell 1989
Kim Stoneking 1989


Terry Pickel 1990
Lisa Burch 1991
Sheila Huggins 1996
Craig Bump 1994
Teresa McConkey 1996
Lavina Thompson Cady 1997
Gary Brown 1997
Karol Herink 1997
Larissa Taylor 1999
Teresa Riley 1999


Amy Lyons Svob 2001
Buffy Parr Crouse 2003
Heather Martin 2000
Linda Windsor 2004
Mandy Waldo 2005
Hailey Vaugh Rhoades 2005
Kelli Canevit 2006
Angela Abbott-Cousins 2007
Rebekah Baughman 2008
Shad Schneider 2009


Kayla Haynes 2010
Harrisburg Disaster Relief Interviews 2012