Glass Plate Slides produced by Benevolent Committees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1923

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Artifact Is: Photograph

Located at: University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Artifact is Significant to: Nation


Artifact Description:

The collection of glass plate slides contains 85 slides with more than 50 unique images were created around 1923. The slides were produced by benevolent committees of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Many of the photographs were taken within the Beth-El General Hospital and School of Nursing, showing the facilities and medical practices of the time as well as the nursing staff and students at work and play. 

Many of the slides are now cracked but the duplication of images shows a pattern of replacement and reuse – some are hand tinted, some black and white.

Why Is This Artifact Significant?

Glass plate slides, also called magic lantern slides, were commercially produced and often used for presentations by missionary organizations or instruction for the general public. By 1900, photographic images were reproduced. Glass slides are fragile and few have survived. 

The slides document the history of health care and charitable religious institutions (hospitals and residential homes) in Colorado. Slides showing the Beth-El General Hospital and student nurses were saved within the Beth-El School of Nursing. The images captured in the slides were probably used for fundraising (for Methodist Episcopal Church activities and specifically for a nursing school scholarship) and informational presentations.

How Does The Artifact Relate To Colorado History?

The slides record local medical and educational practices at a time of change in the nursing profession in America. Beginning in the 1890s, progressive women worked to raise the funds, organize the operations and construction of the hospital. Beth-El was established as the Protestant/ecumenical hospital in Colorado Springs by a group of women of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1922, the Local Board of Managers (later the Women’s Board) donated the Hospital to the Church. The National Methodist Episcopal Tuberculosis Sanatorium was opened in 1926. In 1943, the city of Colorado Springs bought the Hospital and renamed it Memorial Hospital.

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