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April 21, 2013

Sewing Society keeps hospital in linen, supplies

TERRE HAUTE — When Tracy Pruitt came across a small box of old ledgers and receipt books recently, his first impulse was to throw it away. But he decided to sit down and examine its contents. In doing so, he discovered a story.

Contained in ledgers, attendance books, hand-written notes and bank receipts is the story of an active organization of the past called the North End Furnishings Society of the Union Hospital. This was a group of women who met for the purpose of sewing linen goods for Union Hospital and, from their dues and donations, purchasing other supplies. Each month, along with nominal dues, a collection of pennies took place. Though the organization may have begun when the East Building was opened in 1922, the earliest records found in the material given to the Historical Museum are from 1928 and the last from 1965.

Such items as sheets, pillow cases, surgeon’s gowns, sponges, diapers, baby gowns, doctor’s coats and pants, and face masks were among the articles made by the ladies. During 1951, with Ethel Blank as president, there were 47 sewing days with a total of 3,364 articles made and $485.45 spent for bed rails, bed lamps, dental aspirators and intravenous stands.

I was told that other Furnishings Societies existed in Terre Haute, groups that also provided goods for Union Hospital. Looking at the present state of the art facility now in operation, it is interesting to look back at the small, but most important part that groups of women made in its beginnings.

Historical Treasure

• The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through


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