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Tweed

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Uprichard, Muriel

File consists of a recording of Muriel Uprichard. Topics of the conversation include TAPE ONE Early childhood memories; ability to read before school, boredom with early schooling, voracious reading at public library. No-nonsense public schooling, concentration on three Rs, thorough grounding in English grammar (contrast with literary incompetence today). Pitiful horror at corporal punishment. Ability of teachers to handle large classes by authoritative method; resultant boredom for quickminded students (no creative outlet). Well-to-do family life throughout WWI, 1920s; father as high-class innovative store equipment supplier (first supplier of refrigerated butchers' counters in Regina);vivid memory of stockmarket crash ('we have no money; I have lost every penny'). Mother's vulnerable position of having just spent $1200 to outfit daughters; father's advice to keep the clothes, they might not see anything good again for the next ten years; two sets of good Scottish skirts and sweaters (darned, mended, several times resewn) thus brought by subject to Queen's. Pre-crash desire to attend university, parents' support; father's suggestion of Queen's (through own thwarted desire to attend Queen's Univ., Belfast); attendance normal school after stock market crash as only available option. Fascination with English literature, desire to become a writer. Normal school year as life's most boring, useless experience. Shock as prairie schoolteacher of discovering poverty of lives without indoor bathroom, books, bible; personal library of Shakespeare, Browning, bible, Untermeyer's anthology of modern poetry, Darwin's Origin of Species. Acceptance of sole school offered (influx of farmer's ex-teacher wives into Depression teachers' market), remote one-room schoolhouse (planned for 36 children, housing 58) with children in each grade from 1-11, including 21 children of kindergarten age, 11 newly­-immigrated non-English-speaking Russian Mennonites. Horse-riding lessons from local wealthy Americans' daughter; boarding residence with farmer, payment for board and use of horse; receipt of $400 annual salary in IOU vouchers from provincial government; annual debt of $264 to farmer for board. Strict fundamentalist outlook of Unreformed Russian Mennonites, belief in passive acceptance of suffering as just punishment for sin. Two neighbouring English families (graduates of Cambridge and Oxford) sent to prairies after WWI by Soldiers' Resettlement Board. Local epidemic of infectious traucoma (eye disease causing hardening of eyelid, abrasive blindness); Govt. of Saskatchewan Mobile Health Unit visit to school, parents' response of keeping chidren home; compulsory rounding up of children by Mounted Police, painful washing of each eye with silver nitrate. Subject's responsibility for administering eyedrops to each child three times daily (parents couldn't be trusted to comply); responsibility for teaching cleanliness to children unaccustomed to wash, extortion of washbasins from impoverished school board; regular swabbing of desks, pencils, with rubbing alcohol. Success of health routine, instilment of doubt in children's minds regarding parents' fundamentalism, feeling of accomplishment. Intervention on behalf of crippled girl (having ascertained available free treatment in Regina); attempt to argue with fundamentalist father, resulting in immoveable hostility; sense of defeat. Brilliant intervention of Public Health Nurse: wisdom not to argue, receptive rather than aggressive attitude ('Well, would you like to tell me about it?'); father's explanation (attended to by silently weeping, toothless mother, constantly reproductive for years) that crippled child had been born before wedlock, hence was marked by parents' sin; nurse's ability to hear them out for two hours, with many silences; grandfather's final pronouncement, 'It is not truly sin', handing of hospital papers to father to sign. Partial correction of girl's infirmity, complete reversal of pathologically withdrawn personality; previous unteachable nature, latter ability to learn 'like the wind'. Invaluable support from public health nurse, sound advice on how to cope with teaching situation. Application (while teaching) to Queen's; helpful reply from Registrar Jean Royce, crushing news of $22 per course tuition fees. Surrender of university ambition; follow-up letter from Jean Royce, wondering why Uprichard hadn't replied; confession of poverty; receipt from Royce of course outlines as guides for reading, to 'give an idea what it's all about'.//Acceptance of money from family friend to attend Queen's summer school. Love of Kingston after prairie farm surroundings: graphic descriptions of drought, dust storms, plagues of grasshoppers (grasshopper's taste for anything white, consumption of housepaint, laundry). Casual earnings (partly from writings) during teaching years, spent on Queen's extramural courses; Registrar Jean Royce's supportive bending of rules to permit extra course load during summer school. Completion of maximum number of extramural courses permissible; receipt of salary from Saskatchewan government; payment of debts; departure for Queen's to complete requirements of Honours English programme. Permission (after interview with Jean Royce) to enrol in eight winter courses; hard work on little money; room and board with Professor and Mrs.Knox (very scholarly, supportive of subject's studies); personal support from Jean Royce. Completion of year with straight 'A' standing, first class Honours English degree; surprise at success, self-conceit as 'little green bumpkin from rural Saskatchewan', previous misconception of university standards. Educative value of Saturday evenings spent with intellectual set (as opposed to rowdy, drunken, squaredancing set) in rural Saskatchewan: eclectic education at hands of Jesuit priest, Presbyterian minister, English university graduates; discussion of world affairs. Father's discouragement of literary ambitions (too risky), of ambition to become Professor of English; advice, get into some field where women are wanted. Enrolment in Psychology MA programme at Smith University, making up extra courses in psychology; successful application at behest of Queen's Professor Harrison and Principal Wallace for British Council Scholarship (awarded to only one Canadian student annually, roughly equivalent to Rhodes). Mother's illness, death, during MA year; lack of funds to return home, lack of sense to tell troubles to university administration (which would have funded her trip home). Happy summer employment, for good wages, at University of Saskatchewan summer school, teaching students how to teach in one-room schools. Departure to England (1943) for scholarship PhD programme, dangerous passage on merchant vessel in 64-ship convoy; floating torpedoes, separation from convoy in hurricane, guidance to safety by American air force. Excel­ lent lodgings in heavily bombed area of London; sensations under bombing attacks, 'un-Christian relief' at not being hit. Application to University of London for PhD programme admission; conscription, unsatisfactory summons to armed forces recruiting office; simultaneous request by Department of Health for trained psychologists to deal with evacuee 'problem children'; acceptance of wartime service work with evacuees as basis of PhD research programme, three­ year effort diagnosing problem children, centrally locating them, organizing programmes to help them learn to read and write before critical 'eleven-plus' examinations; innovative efforts to reach through defence barriers of pathologically shy children (similar to crippled girl on prairies). Collection of data enough for twelve PhD theses, invaluable practical experience of psychology; suitability of University of London PhD programme as framework for independent research: absence of coursework, onus on mature individual effort without aid. Distinction between University of London one­ shot long-term PhD effort, North American system of stages in PhD programme (with self-congratulatory breathing spaces in between). Brilliant PhD tutor Professor Hamley.//TAPE TWO Stimulation of University of London student Common Room, 'a liberal education in itself'; thrill of achieving PhD. Job offer from International Council of Nurses (referred to subject by Professor Hamley) to investigate possible uses of Florence Nightingale International Foundation funds; doubtful acceptance after strong encouragement from uncle, Professor Hamley ('you always think you can't do anything'). History of Florence Nightingale International Foundation from institution as memorial fund-raising campaign (1912) for promotion of nursing education, to fatal postponement of application (investment in trust fund) during busy years during and after WWI. Rapid advancement of nursing science after WWI, initiation of Public Health nursing system; institution by League of Red Cross Societies (in connection with Queen's College, first women's college of University of London) of nurses' training school, transferred to Florence Nightingale International Foundation after stock market crash, depletion of Red Cross funds; abandonment after WWII, under criticism that indiscriminate diploma courses for nurses were no longer acceptable. University of London resistance to FNIF proposal of School of Nursing. FNIF involvement in controversy over how nurses should be educated, tour of North American institutes, cataloguing opinions of FNIF participants. Employment as Director of Canadian junior Red Cross, resignation within two years (bored to tears). Positions as consultant to a) Canadian Association of Nurses, b) Metropolitan School, Windsor (experimental two-year nurses' training programme). Recommendation of Pauline Jewett for Canadian Association of Nurses' job, close friendship with Jewett as result of collaboration. Government establishment of regional schools of nursing, Community Colleges, after pattern of Metropolitan School. Authority-accepting mentality of hospital-trained nurses (limitation of experience to hospital trained in, indoctrination into undemocratic hospital system); community college graduate's freer grasp of theory but overconcern with efficiency, chartwork, 'getting the work done'; university graduate's excellent theoretical background, proper focus of attention on the patient's welfare. Hospital discouragement of well-trained unsubmissive nurses as threat to establishment's peace of mind. Ten-year teaching stint at University of Toronto (history of nursing, Educational psychology, 'how do you create a curriculum?'); conviction that patients must cure themselves (by difficult alteration of habits, lifestyle), educational psychology as a matter of teaching nurses the power of inducement. Transfer to UCLA at request of Lulu Hassenplug, great friend first encountered on FNIF tour at Vanderbilt University; Vanderbilt nursing programme as revelation of superiority of American training to England's most rigorous nursing education.// Invitation from clever Dean of Applied Science Liam Finn to direct University of British Columbia foundering School of Nursing; history of school from 1919 (under fascinating director Ethel Johns) to four-year dearth of Directorship candidates in late 1960s (advice never to accept an 'acting' position of any kind). Subject's recreation of nursing programme, increase in enrolment (1970-6) from 200 to 800 students; creation of MA programme; attraction of over one-million dollars in grants. UBC mandatory retirement at 65 (1976); invitation from Concordia University to save its foundering school of nursing; present engagement revising Concordia University School of Nursing, plan to retire after one more year. Concordia's problems of integration as merger of two former colleges: problem of fusing double sets of faculties, administrations; mistake in not fusing administrations first, consequent power-struggles. Possible devotion of retirement period to writing; extensive previous writing, success of Three Little Indians in freshman year at Queen's; writing as internal self-discipline, speculation whether she can will herself to write now. Valuable supply of memories for lifestory; anecdote from prairie school teaching days of resourceful solicitation in nearby pub (illegally entered as female minor) to raise money for desperately-needed school chalk.

Uprichard, Muriel

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