Building a complete, searchable index of the entire history of Hopkins Nursing alumni news and notes is not a job for the weak-willed. And so every Tuesday from 2005 to 2013, Betty Scher, ’50, brought her determination–and sometimes brownies or other baked goodies–to the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and got to work indexing the Johns Hopkins Nursing Alumnae Magazine (1901-1990), Vigilando (1991-2003) and Nursing News (1985-2002).
Her persistence and keen focus have left the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions with more than a century of nursing alumni history at its fingertips.
For Scher, who passed away in November, it was as much passion as mission. “She would always say, ‘I got far more out of it than I ever put in,’” remembers Phoebe Evans Letocha, who oversees the Johns Hopkins Nursing Historical Collection at the Archives and finds that assertion hard to imagine. “There is a whole publication that covers the entire history of the Nursing Alumni Association and School of Nursing that is now indexed and discoverable.”
Scher did love digging up stories and sharing them, turning the more off-beat or fascinating into Who Is This Alumna?, a feature she wrote for Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine until her death.
“Anna Wolf [who directed the Nursing School from 1940-1955]instilled in Betty a pride in the school,” says Letocha, “and she loved the history. When we had a question about a nurse, we would turn to her for help with finding things. She had this institutional knowledge as well as knowledge gained through doing the index project. She was a wonderful, wonderful resource.”
While calling Scher “irreplaceable,” Letocha (email@example.com) says the Archives is hoping to recruit another nursing alumnus to carry the project into the future.
See the indexed magazines at medicalarchives.jhmi.edu.