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Margaret Portrait

Margaret Macaulay Richardson

1872 - 1937

In the late 19th century, Margaret Macaulay Richardson, a historic resident of Independence, Oregon, with family connections still in the area, answered the call to serve during the Spanish-American War. As one of the initial graduates of the Good Samaritan School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon, Margaret exemplified the compassion and courage integral to nursing. Serving as one of the more than 1,500 nurses selected for military service during the Spanish-American War, her story sheds light on the broader narrative of women's contributions to nursing during times of conflict.

Portrait of Margaret Macaulay Richardson, by W. H. Stalee, Date Unknown, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

Nursing Career Beginnings

Margaret Macaulay (b. 1872) began her nursing career at Portland's Good Samaritan Hospital as a young woman in her teens. This was a common path at the time when formal nursing schools were yet to be broadly established. Before the advent of these schools, aspiring nurses typically entered the profession through apprenticeships or on-the-job training, learning essential skills under the guidance of experienced practitioners.

The Independence West Side July 18, 1890

The Independence West Side, July 18, 1890

The Good Samaritan School of Nursing was founded on June 1, 1890 by a graduate of Bellevue Training School for Nurses in New York City named Emily Loveridge. This training school was the Northwest's first nursing education institution. Initially, there were just six pupils, three of whom were already employed within the hospital, including Margaret Macaulay. Classes were held in the evenings and covered a curriculum that included anatomy, physiology, the study of medicines and their uses, and practical nursing skills. Emily Loveridge led the study and staff doctors provided visiting lectures.

 

The demanding workload and long hours were a hallmark of early nursing education. Nurses often worked 12 to 16 hours a day, with no fixed hours off and sometimes no free evenings. Their tasks were varied and encompassed not only patient care but also cleaning and disinfecting, scrubbing, mending clothes and carpets, washing windows, and even painting and varnishing when necessary.

 

In Emily Loveridge’s memoir she wrote that, “...in spite of all the drudgery the nurses of the old days surely possessed the human touch. I do not know how I could have managed that first class had it not been for the three nurses who had served in the hospital before entering training: Helen Eborall, Margaret Macaulay and Anna Peterson. God bless them, for they possessed much practical knowledge of the care of the sick and were fine high-typed women and no kind or amount of work daunted them!”

 

In 1892, the school graduated its first class of twelve graduates. Among them was Margaret Macaulay.

1892 Graduating Class

Graduates of the Good Samaritan School for Nursing, 1892, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

Graduation Announcement
Graduation Announcement Inside

Graduation Program, Good Samaritan School for Nursing, 1892, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

Service in the Spanish-American War

After the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898, the U.S. military encountered severe medical challenges in the Philippines where diseases such as typhoid fever afflicted many troops. Dr. Anita Newcome McGee, a medical doctor with ties to senior military officials, helped propose and implement the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Hospital Corps as a solution to the crisis. The DAR Hospital Corps trained volunteer nurses for service in both the Army and Navy.

On August 29, 1898, Dr. McGee's organizational prowess led to her appointment as the only woman Acting Assistant Surgeon in the United States Army, placing her in charge of the Army's nurses under the Army Surgeon General's Department.
 

The Medford Mail, June 3, 1898

The Medford Mail, June 3, 1898

Margaret Macaulay joined more than 1,500 volunteer nurses who answered the call to serve in military hospitals across the U.S. and in various locations such as Cuba, Hawaii, and the Philippines. Selected for her training at the Good Samaritan School of Nursing, Macaulay and her fellow nurses faced shortages of supplies, grueling conditions, illness, and even death. Despite these challenges, they provided crucial care to the sick and wounded.

The unwavering commitment of these nurses laid the foundation for the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901 and the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908. These Nurse Corps marked the first official inclusion of women in the U.S. military. The contributions of Macaulay and her colleagues challenged traditional gender roles and perceptions about women's capabilities and played a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and advancing the cause of women's inclusion in military service.
 

Philippines
Philippines
Philippines

Margaret Macaulay Richardson’s Spanish-American War Photo Album, Philippines, 1898-1901, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

Post-War Life and Contributions

After returning from the Philippines, Margaret Macaulay married a veterinarian surgeon named Thomas Francis Richardson. They resided in Nevada where they collaborated on Francis's veterinary medical practice.

Francis Richardson

Portrait of Thomas Francis Richardson, by Moore, Date Unknown, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

Mother and child

Photo of Margaret Macaulay Richardson and stepson Jack Richardson, by Weyle, circa 1910, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated in 2022.

Medicating chickens

Photo of Margaret Macaulay Richardson and Mona Frazer caring for chickens on the Richardson property in Nevada, circa 1910. Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

In 1914 Francis tragically contracted anthrax while taking a sample from a bovine and passed away shortly thereafter. Following her husband's death, Margaret relocated to California for a period but maintained ties with her family in Independence through regular visits.

 

Margaret’s descendents claimed she was so distraught by her husband’s death that she gave up nursing as a profession. Eventually, however, Margaret returned to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland and continued to be a part of the nursing field by working as the matron of the nursing school in Portland. She passed away in Portland in 1937 and is buried in the River View Cemetery in that city. 

Margaret Macaulay at Center Front.tif
Statesman Journal Apr 3 1934

Statesman Journal, April 3, 1934.

Margaret Macaulay Richardson seated in the center of the first row with the nursing staff of the Good Samaritan Hospital, Portland, Oregon, circa 1930s.

Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

Margaret Macaulay Richardson's life stands as a testament to the resilience, dedication, and enduring legacy of women in nursing. From her early days as a pioneering graduate of the Good Samaritan School of Nursing to her courageous service during the Spanish-American War, Margaret exemplified the compassionate spirit that defines the nursing profession. Despite facing personal tragedies, she continued to contribute to the field and left her mark as the nursing school matron at Good Samaritan Hospital. Margaret's story serves as an inspiration and highlights the vital role of women in shaping the history of nursing.

Image 15.tif

Experience history come to life at the Heritage Museum, where you can view Margaret Macaulay Richardson's nursing uniform alongside her albums, graduation announcement from the Good Samaritan School of Nursing, as well as the Heritage Museum’s permanent medical and military exhibits.

Jan Stryker, a descendant of the Independence Macaulay line, donated a collection of family photographs and artifacts to the Heritage Museum in 2022. It is thanks to this precious collection that we are able to share the story of Margaret Macaulay Richardson with you today.

Margaret Macaulay Richardson’s Spanish-American War Photo Album, Philippines, 1889-1901, Stryker Collection, Heritage Museum, Donated 2022.

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