‘Rooted in the Mountains, Reaching to the World: Stories of Nursing and Midwifery at Kentucky’s Frontier School, 1939-1989’
In their book, Rooted in the Mountains, Reaching to the World, nurse historians Anne Z. Cockerham and Arlene W. Keeling share a fascinating glimpse into a part of nurse-midwifery that has received little attention until now – the stories of pioneering students who attended one of the first nurse-midwifery schools in America.
In 1925, nursing pioneer Mary Breckinridge moved to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky with the dream of providing family-oriented healthcare to a rural population. Mrs. Breckinridge founded the Frontier Nursing Service, creating clinics and enlisting the services of nurse-midwives who traveled on horseback to administer care and attend births in an area with few roads and no physicians. British-trained nurse-midwives staffed the Service in its early years, but when World War II broke out, many of the nurses returned home to support the war effort. To keep her service running, Mrs. Breckinridge put into action her dream of opening a school to train nurse-midwives. In 1939, the Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery admitted its first class.
Frontier students embraced adventure. They crossed swinging bridges high above rushing creeks, rode horses through snow-covered hollows, attended births in remote cabins, vaccinated mountain children against potentially devastating illnesses, and provided healthcare for entire families (including the families’ animals). The students endured extremes of weather, long hours, and separation from family and friends.Many were motivated by gaining valuable experience that would prepare them for international missionary work or care of women and families in rural areas of the United States. Indeed, studying in remote Eastern Kentucky launched the careers of hundreds of nurse-midwives and family nurse prac- titioners, allowing them to touch the lives of countless women and families around the world.
Using historical photographs and alumni memories, Rooted in the Mountains, Reaching to the World captures the unique and exciting experiences of the students who lived, learned, and established deep and meaningful roots at the Frontier School between its inception in 1939 and the school’s transition to a distance-learning format in 1989.
Published by Frontier Nursing University (as the school is known today), Rooted in the Mountains, Reaching to the World retails for $30 and can be purchased from Butler Books, For more information about the book, go to www.frontier.edu/pioneerbook.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will fund scholarships for students at Frontier Nursing University, which carries on the legacy of Mary Breckinridge by training nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners as leaders women and families, with an emphasis on providing care to rural and underserved populations.