Interview with Agnes Lewis, July 15, 1970

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

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Partial Transcript: --never upset me, you see but if I--when I did--

Segment Synopsis: Agnes Lewis is introduced. She talks about when she came to work for the Frontier Nursing Service in 1931 as the head of the records department. She stayed in that position for one year but stayed with the FNS for 38 years off and on. She describes life in Leslie County, Kentucky during the Great Depression and Mary Breckinridge's role in acquiring more government assistance for the people.

Keywords: Families; Food; Government relief programs; Great Depression; Mary Breckinridge; Outdoors; Rations; Records department; Red Cross; Resignation; Upset

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Country life; Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Leslie County (Ky.); Medical centers--Administration; Rural conditions

00:05:16 - Mary Breckinridge / Breckinridge's broken back

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Partial Transcript: What would you say Mrs. Breckinridge, uh, uh, was like as a person?

Segment Synopsis: Lewis describes Mary Breckinridge's personality and expectations of the FNS employees. She gives examples of how Mrs. Breckinridge helped others. She talks about Mrs. Breckinridge's travels, the FNS budget, and describes in detail how Mrs. Breckinridge broke her back while riding a horse.

Keywords: "Blithering idiot"; "Child"; Accidents; Ann MacKinnon ("Mac"); Assistance; Broken back; Budgets; Clinics; Contributions; Divorce; Donations; Endowment; Expectations; Helping; Horseback; Horses; Hospitals; Income; Injuries; Lafayette Hotel; Local people; Married; Mary Breckinridge; Medicare; Personality; Stretchers; Surgery; Traveling; Visits

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Medical centers--Administration; Medical centers--Cost of operation; Medical centers--Finance

00:19:13 - Difficulty adjusting to life at the FNS

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Partial Transcript: Uh, speaking of coming back, I was--reminds me to ask about the number of people who come back here.

Segment Synopsis: Lewis talks about why people come to live and work for the FNS and why so many return to the FNS after leaving. She talks about being unhappy at the FNS initially, and talks about how she eventually came to love being part of the FNS.

Keywords: Abilities; Duties; Fitting in; Horses; Isolation; Mary Breckinridge; Nurses; Personality; Returning; Unhappiness; Visiting

Subjects: Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Country life; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Rural conditions

00:24:49 - Midwifery school / Mary Breckinridge's influence

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Partial Transcript: What were the most, uh, exciting years in the FNS for you?

Segment Synopsis: Lewis says that one of the most exciting times at the FNS was when Mary Breckinridge decided to open the midwifery school. She talks about Mrs. Breckinridge's ability to influence others, her role as an agent of social change, and her ability to always secure funds for the FNS. She talks about visitors to the FNS and their discussions with Mrs. Breckinridge. She talks about religious services and social activities held at Wendover. She talks about changes to the FNS over the years. The interview concludes abruptly.

Keywords: Activities; Arguments; Bathrooms; British nurses; Changes; Chapel; Church services; Donations; Dr. Massey; Exciting; Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery; Funding; Great Depression; Guests; Honesty; Human touch; Influence; Knowledge; Mary Breckinridge; Nurses; Purpose; Social change; Teas; University affiliation; University of Kentucky; Upper Shelf; Visitors; Whispering campaign; World War II

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Benefactors; Breckinridge, Mary, 1881-1965; Charity; Frontier Nursing Service, Inc.; Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing; Medical centers--Administration; Medical centers--Cost of operation; Midwifery--Appalachian Region; Midwives--Appalachian Region; Philanthropists; World War, 1939-1945