Fonds MC2152 - Bertha L. Gregory fonds

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Bertha L. Gregory fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • 1919-[1983], predominant 1919-1925 (Creation)
    Gregory, Bertha Louise

Physical description

5.5 cm of textual records and 20 photographs : b&w and sepia pasted on leaves of journal

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(14 October 1892 - 27 December 1983)

Biographical history

Bertha Louise Gregory, the daughter of Henrietta (Nettie) Vail and Andrew Cecil Gregory, was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, on 14 October 1892. She received a diploma from the Saint John General Public Hospital School of Nursing in 1916 and became a registered nurse. In 1923, she graduated from Dalhousie University’s public health nursing program. Between 1937 and 1939 she earned a state of Maine professional teacher's certificate as a school nurse.

In 1916, Bertha Gregory began working with the Victorian Order of Nurses in Saint John followed by a few months in New York City. For a short time, in 1917, she worked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, assisting with relief efforts following the Halifax explosion. This disaster flattened 1,630 homes, damaged 12,000 more, killed 1,900 people, and left 6,000 homeless.

After returning to Saint John, she worked, for the next three years, with the Canadian Red Cross Society in cooperation with the Dominion Department of Immigration and Colonization: first with the train service for soldiers' dependants (war brides and children) and then, from 1920-1922, as demonstrated in this journal, as port nurse in Saint John. As port nurse, Bertha operated a nursery, the first in Canada, which offered thousands of mothers and babies food, medical assistance, bathing and laundry facilities, and a place to rest before boarding the train bound for their final destinations. Bertha also assisted with the establishment of a port nursery at Québec in the early 1920s.

Resigning her duties as port nurse, Bertha Gregory registered as a nurse in the state of Maine, in 1925, and, subsequently, served as district nurse in Calais for 13 years. She returned to New Brunswick after completing studies in Halifax, and worked as a child welfare nurse in Saint John between 1937 and 1945. In the latter year, she married Lyman MacDougall, and relocated to Roseway, Nova Scotia. Following his death, she moved to Saint John where she lived with her sisters, Carla and Lyla. Bertha Gregory MacDougall died at Saint John on 27 December 1983.

Custodial history

Information about the custody of these records prior to acquisition is incomplete.

Scope and content

Bertha Gregory's journal offers details of her work at the port of Saint John during the winters of 1920-1921 and 1921-1922, particularly with respect to the Red Cross nursery located in the immigration building, Saint John West. She records names of ships arriving; the number of adults, children, and infants aboard; and the ministrations performed.

A number of photographs depicting places and people she worked or served with during her 1919 trip West on Red Cross Train Service for soldiers' dependants, are pasted on several journal pages. Also pasted inside the journal are photographs of Bertha Gregory, her assistants, acquaintances, groups of immigrants, and immigrant children, as well as newspaper clippings, a Canadian Red Cross Society report, and a few letters all relating to her work as a port nurse at Saint John or Québec. There are also samples of Red Cross information cards, in several different languages, which were distributed to arriving immigrants to assist them in locating health care for their families.

The fonds also includes one list each of medical supplies and nursery supplies, several summaries of work performed, several articles about the port nursery, and a pamphlet offering detailed instructions to nurses serving on trains under the Canadian Red Cross Society. A number of newspaper clippings providing biographical information on family members, notably, Bertha L. Gregory; her sisters, Lyla and Clara; her mother, Henrietta; and her grandmother, Susan, are included in the fonds.

Eleven photographs of Bertha Gregory, of the immigrant room and nursery at Saint John (1920s), of Halifax following the explosion (1917), and of Bertha en route to western Canada (1919) accompanied this fonds. They are located in P357 (nos. 25-35).

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