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The Montefiore Hospital Photographs, c1885-c1990, MSP 286,
Rauh Jewish Archives, Library & Archives Division, Senator John Heinz History Center

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What's online

The Montefiore Hospital Photographs consists of 161 images dating from c.1890 to 1988. The images document the history of the hospital from its beginnings to 1988, two years before it was sold to the University of Pittsburgh. Included in this collection are images depicting the hospital buildings, starting with the mansion on Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh's Hill District that was renovated as a hospital and dedicated in 1908, to the new hospital in Oakland that opened in 1929, as well as images of the various renovations and additions that took place through the next sixty years. Aerial photographs document the expansion of Montefiore and the growth of the University of Pittsburgh medical center which surrounded it.

Images in the online collection include those of physicians, nurses, interns, and student nurses in both formal groups and work settings. The members of the hospital board of trustees are seen, primarily at events related to new buildings and facilities. Annie Jacobs Davis, known as "the mother of Montefiore Hospital," is shown with her husband Barnett Davis, with other women at a fund-raising event for the hospital, and at a groundbreaking for the new hospital building in Oakland. Images depict the gift shop and lunch counter run by the Ladies' Hospital Aid Society, as well as its members involved in organizational activities. Evidence of Montefiore's identity as a Jewish hospital can be seen in images of a Passover Seder and of the mashgiah (supervisor of the kosher kitchen).

What's in the entire collection

The Montefiore Hospital Collection (c1885-c1990), held by the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center, comprises 1.5 linear feet of images that document the history of Montefiore Hospital. The collection includes photographs of the founders, the professionals who worked in the hospital, and the interns and student nurses who trained there. Images of the hospital buildings are a significant part of the collection. Photographs of the interior and exterior of the early hospital on Centre Avenue, of the construction of the new building in Oakland that opened in 1929, of interiors and exteriors of that building, and of the subsequent dedications of expansions and renovations create a record of the hospital facilities as they changed over time. Aerial photographs taken during approximately fifty years document the growth of the hospital and development of the University of Pittsburgh medical center as well as the changing urban context in which the hospital existed.

From its founding, Montefiore had been nonsectarian in its provision of services. However, its Jewish identity is evident in the pictures of those who supported the hospital by serving on the hospital board of trustees and participating in the Ladies' Hospital Aid Society, many of whom can be recognized as members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.

About Montefiore Hospital

In 1898, a group of seventeen Jewish women formed the Hebrew Ladies' Hospital Aid Society (HLHAS), later the Ladies' Hospital Aid Society, to meet the medical and social needs of thousands of newly arriving Jewish immigrants, most of whom had settled in the Hill District. Annie Jacobs Davis was the first HLHAS chairman. She and her co-workers visited the sick, bringing them kosher food. They also paid the salary of a public health nurse who was stationed at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement and paid hospitals to provide medical care for indigent Jewish patients. Early in the organization's existence, the members began to collect funds for a Jewish hospital which would both provide Jewish doctors the opportunity for the training and hospital affiliation which were denied them elsewhere and furnish hospital care for Jewish patients, with kosher food and a Jewish environment. By 1907, the HLHAS had accumulated over $60,000.

A mansion was purchased on Centre Avenue in the Hill District. After renovation of the building, Montefiore Hospital opened in May 1908. Although the hospital was founded by the Jewish community, the hospital was, from its founding, nonsectarian in the acceptance of patients and the selection of house staff. The HLHAS, which had been instrumental in the establishment of Montefiore Hospital and continued to play an important role in the day-to-day functioning of the hospital, became the hospital's auxiliary. Men from Pittsburgh's Jewish community formed the governing board.

A year after the dedication of the hospital, the Montefiore Hospital Training School for Nurses was founded in 1909. The Montefiore Hospital dispensary, an outpatient facility, was opened in 1922. Soon after, its services were expanded by the opening of a preventive health center. The next year, a social service department was added to the dispensary through the efforts of the HLHAS.

Not long after its opening, the Montefiore Hospital outgrew the existing structure, and a fundraising drive for a new hospital was initiated. Property at Fifth Avenue and Darragh Street in the Oakland neighborhood was purchased for $350,000. A new hospital, which opened in 1929, was built on that site.

The continuing growth of the hospital was often underwritten with gifts from the Jewish community. In 1950, a teaching wing of 32 beds was opened in memory of Ensign William Ira Adelman. At about that time, an Institute of Research was founded with funding from the Anathan family, the estate of Leo Lehman, the Maurice and Laura Falk Foundation, and Mrs. Jessie Keyt McCready. The Liliane S. Kaufmann School of Nursing Residence opened in 1953. In 1962, Amy P. Frank donated a new wing, in memory of her parents, Samuel and Ettie Klein Frank. One year later, a new house staff residence was dedicated.

Montefiore began operating Pennsylvania's first home care program in 1952. The hospital also provided medical services to the Bickur Cholim Convalescent and Nursing Home and to the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged, as well as creating additional outreach programs to serve the community.

As early as 1923, there had been discussions concerning Montefiore's possible affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, whose chancellor was interested in establishing a strong teaching hospital. Finally, in 1952, a physical diagnosis course for University of Pittsburgh medical students was offered at Montefiore. In 1959, Pitt began sending students to Montefiore for training in general surgery. Montefiore's role in the teaching program of the medical school then expanded significantly, not only for medical students, but also for a variety of other allied health professionals. But not all programs expanded -- because of financial and competitive pressures, the obstetrical and pediatric units of the hospital closed in 1963 and 1975, respectively.

Despite the fact that the hospital had hired full-time physicians in anesthesiology, radiology, and pathology during its early years, its medical staff consisted mostly of private practitioners. By 1969, however, the hospital had full-time chairs of the Department of Medicine and Department of Surgery. Other full-time physicians were recruited, and the house staff was expanded, changing the role of Montefiore Hospital from a community teaching hospital to a university teaching hospital, drawing the hospital closer to the university.

In 1969, Montefiore Hospital joined the University Health Center of Pittsburgh (UHCP), which already included Presbyterian-University, Eye and Ear, Magee-Womens, and Childrens Hospitals, and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. However, this association was not welcomed by many of the hospital's medical staff. Those physicians felt uncertain about the role of general practitioners in the university environment and were apprehensive that Montefiore was abandoning its position as the district's Jewish hospital, for patients and physicians alike. These issues resulted in disagreements between the hospital board of directors and UHCP. New affiliation agreements were signed in 1977 and again in 1980. Montefiore Hospital retained some autonomy but gave up considerable control.

Montefiore Hospital continued to struggle to maintain its identity within the larger health center. However, in 1990, the University purchased Montefiore for $145,000,000 of which about half was used to retire the hospital's bond issue. The rest was used to establish the Montefiore Foundation, later renamed the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, which uses its assets to improve patient safety and healthcare quality and to address the needs of the medically underserved in western Pennsylvania.

Reflecting a change in the structure of the University Health Center of Pittsburgh and a change of its name to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the name of the hospital was changed first to Montefiore-University Hospital and later to UPMC Montefiore. The other institutions within the medical center assumed much of Montefiore's role as an acute-care hospital. Today, UPMC Montefiore is part of UPMC Presbyterian.

Those interested in a more complete history of Montefiore Hospital are referred to To Good Health and Life: L'chaim, a History of Montefiore Hospital of Pittsburgh, 1989-1990, written by Carol Stein Bleier with Lu Donnelly and Samuel P. Granowitz, M.D, and published in 1997.

Digitization of the Montefiore Hospital Photographs was underwritten with a generous grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

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