Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Betty Lester, July 15, 1970

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:08 - Introduction to the Frontier Nursing Service

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Partial Transcript: Uh, we--what we want to do is just put your name and the date on tape and, uh--

Segment Synopsis: Lester gives a brief overview of her midwifery training and her preparation for coming to the FNS. She talks about her journey to the FNS.

[This topic is covered in greater detail in another interview with Betty Lester. See interview 1982OH012 FNS 155]

Keywords: Arrival; Dogs; Horseback riding; Horses; Kentucky; London (England); Mary Breckinridge; Midwifery training; Postgraduate courses; Preparation; Trains; Traveling

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Country life; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Leslie County (Ky.); Medical education; Nurses; Nursing--Study and teaching; Rural conditions

00:06:22 - Local people / Mary Breckinridge

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Partial Transcript: Well when I got to Hyden the, uh, nurse who'd been in England was head of the hospital then.

Segment Synopsis: Lester talks briefly about her relationships with the local people, and the help they gave her when she became lost. She talks about Mrs. Breckinridge's personality.

[This topic is covered in greater detail in another interview with Betty Lester. See interview 1982OH013 FNS 156]

Keywords: Districts; Expectations; Hospital dedication; Local people; Lost; Mary Breckinridge; Personality; Relationships; Talking

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Country life; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Health facilities.; Nurses

00:09:33 - Positions held at the Frontier Nursing Service

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Partial Transcript: You gave family service when you, uh--are you in the ho--were you ever in the ho--back in the hospital, or?

Segment Synopsis: Lester talks about her career with the FNS and the various positions she has held there.

[This topic is covered in greater detail in another interview with Betty Lester. See interview 1982OH013 FNS 156]

Keywords: Career; Children; Field supervisors; Hospitals; Hyden (Ky.); Red Bird Center; Social service workers; Social workers; Surveys; Traveling; Wolf Creek Clinic

Subjects: Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Health facilities.; Nurses; Occupations.

00:12:27 - More on the local people

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Partial Transcript: Did you have--notice that the people in various areas have any peculiarities or, or, uh, or idiosyncrasies that are, you know, particular to them...

Segment Synopsis: Lester discusses her relationships with the local people. She talks about their attitudes, their livelihoods, and the health issues that they often faced. She talks about the rule that FNS nurses could only treat families who lived within a certain distance and tells a story about the time she broke that rule.

Keywords: Black lung; Canning and preserving; Changes; Clinics; Coal; Delivery; Distance; Districts; Farms; Gardens; Generations; Home births; Home visits; Hospitals; Idiosyncrasies; Illnesses; Immunizations; Labor; Livestock; Local people; Mary Willeford; Mines; Schools clinics; Shots; Traveling; Tuberculosis (TB); Workload

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Childbirth; Country life; Families.; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Leslie County (Ky.); Maternal health services.; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Midwifery--Appalachian Region; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Nurses; Pregnancy; Rural conditions; Rural health services

00:24:13 - Receiving the Order of the British Empire

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Partial Transcript: She's done everything but been director.

Segment Synopsis: Lester talks about why she did not want to become the director of the FNS, and talks about how Mary Breckinridge could convince people to do things they didn't want to do. She talks about receiving the Order of the British Empire, and talks about why Leslie County feels like her home.

Keywords: "Wide Neighborhoods"; American citizenship; Books; Committees; Director; Home; Honors; Job positions; Leaving; Leslie County (Ky.); Mary Breckinridge; Order of the British Empire (OBE); Public speaking

Subjects: Awards; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Nurses; Occupations.

00:29:49 - Frontier Nursing Service guidelines and standards

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Partial Transcript: Course then Brownie took over. How long has Brownie been, uh--

Segment Synopsis: Lester talks about the influence of England on the FNS's guidelines. She talks about Mary Breckinridge's standards and expectations of the FNS nurses.

Keywords: American; British; Central Midwives Board; Directors; England; Guidelines; Helen Browne ("Brownie"); Influence; Mary Breckinridge; Midwifery training; Qualifications; Qualities; Quality; Standards; Surveys

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical education; Nurses; Nursing--Study and teaching

00:34:50 - Acceptance by the local people

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Partial Transcript: But I tell you something that maybe will interest you.

Segment Synopsis: Lester talks about her relationship with the local people she served through the FNS, and how they slowly began to trust her over time. She talks about how the locals helped her as much as she helped them. She talks about the FNS policy of not beginning conversations about sensitive subjects like religion, but the nurses were allowed to discuss these topics if the local people asked.

Keywords: Acceptance; Accidents; Assistance; Attitudes; Conversations; Cooking; Education; Feuds; Grease; Health issues; Help; Jeeps; Knowledge; Local people; Moonshine stills; Needs; Politics; Religion; Safety; Shootings; Trouble; Trust; Vaccinations

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Country life; Families.; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Nurses; Rural conditions; Rural health services

00:44:42 - Current job duties / relationship between the Frontier Nursing Service and its patients

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Partial Transcript: --ask you what you're doing now.

Segment Synopsis: Lester talks about taking people on tours of the FNS, and talks about outsiders' interest in the organization. She talks about trying to maintain the relationship between the Frontier Nursing Service and its patients. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Affection; Awareness; Duties; Local people; Nurses; Patients; Qualities; Relationships; Responsibilities; Tours; Visitors

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Rural health services