Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hildegard Peplau

Hildegard Peplau (1909-1999) our favorite Aunt, our mother's sister, and the matriarch of our family. She is also considered "The Mother of Psychiatric Nursing". The daughter of hardworking immigrants, Aunt Hilda began her life in Reading, PA and was always a determined woman. She left high school after a disagreement with the school's principle, received her high school equivalency and pursued a career in nursing because "the promise of free room and board and a monthly stipend" made nursing an attractive option. Most nurses of the era became private duty nurses, however Hilda moved on to the progressive Bennington College in VT. World War II intervened and Aunt Hilda entered into the US Army Nurse Corps with the intention of serving in Europe. Posted to a military psychiatric hospital in England, she pioneered innovative approaches to treat emotionally scarred and battle fatigued soldiers.

After the war she used the GI bill to pursue post graduate work in Columbia University Teachers College in New York City. By then Hilda was, by choice, a single parent raising a child in an era when such a role was entirely outside accepted social norms! Teaching, writing, and always an imaginative innovator, Hilda continued this amazing life, an inspiration to her nieces. She held numerous doctorates (earned and honorary). Once, after having called her Dr. Peplau, she replied, "Either call me Hilda or call me Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr, Dr Peplau."

Her noteworthy career began in 1928 at the Pottstown Hospital Training School, where one of the "skills" she was taught was how to serve tea using a silver tea service. Nurses at this time often accepted private duty positions in the homes of the wealthy and were expected to know the proper method of serving tea.
Hildegard is considered a founder of modern psychiatric nursing, an innovative educator, an advocate for the mentally ill and a proponent of continuing education for nurses. Her ambitious professional path led her to become the President of the American Nurses Association and a participant on the advisory board to the World Health Organization, and earn the title of Psychiatric Nurse of the Century.

We chose to honor our favorite Aunt Hilda today as it is her birthday. Although she passed away in 1999 at age 89, she would have turned 100 today. She continues to be an inspiration to many.

8 comments:

Lady Donna & Miss Spenser said...

What a legacy!! Absolutely fascinating story...I so enjoyed the photos too...especially the ones with your mom and her...

Thanks for sharing. BTWay...just saw the darling tea cozy photo with "When left alone with a cozy!" Too funny!

Donna

Martha said...

What a fascinating story.

In my other life, I worked in a Psych Hosp and knew many wonderful Psych nurses.

Your aunt is to be commended.

Jules @ MoonCat Farms said...

How fabulous to have such wonderful, strong women as your role models. It is very inspiring.

Marilyn Miller said...

Fascinating! You have some strong women in your bloodline.

comfrey cottages said...

awww this is just a lovely tribute to your aunt! thank you for sharing her inspiring life story! i am in awe and so happy for you to have had her in your life. matriarch... i would say she deserves that title not only for her role in your family, but all so for the many strong woman roles she exemplified throughout her life! big herbal and honey hugs and thank you again for sharing:)

parTea lady said...

What a great tribute to your Aunt Hilda on her birthday. She certainly was (and is) an inspiration. Thanks for sharing her story.

Denise ~ Charleston, South Carolina. said...

How proud you must be of Aunt Hilda! What a fantastic legacy by this amazing woman! I really enjoyed reading about her. Thanks for sharing with us.

LostGuy818 said...

Hello. My name is Jeffrey and I'm from Philippines. I know you don't know me but I just wanted to ask a favor regarding HIldegard Peplau. I'm a nursing student here in the Philippines and for our finals, we need to make a film about the life of Hildegard Peplau. I look up to her so much and I wanted the film to portray her as this very relevant and influencial person that she really is. My favor is... since you guys know her, can you share with me some details about her personal life like Marriage, Children, why did she choose being a nurse. Stuff like that. I'd really appreaciate it if you tell us something. It would really help our class. Thanks.