Finding Aid of the Mary Teague Thomas Papers, PC.7002


Finding Aid of the Mary Teague Thomas Papers, PC.7002


Mary Teague Thomas (1922-2012) began her career as an operating room nurse and spent forty-five years working in hospitals and in public health administration, becoming Director of Nursing for the Cumberland County Health Department in Fayetteville, NC in 1977. She graduated from the Davis Hospital School of Nursing in 1944 and worked as an operating room nurse and supervisor until 1957. For the next thirty-two years she worked in public health nursing and was honored for her service and commitment to the field with the Margaret B. Dolan Award in 1981. She retired in 1989.

The Mary Teague Thomas Papers include photographs, letters, postcards, clippings, brochures, pamphlets, notes, textbooks, plaques and other documents related to her nursing training and long career in public health administration; letters from patients and soldiers during WWII; clippings documenting the changing role of public health nurses; and a scrapbook of historical clippings about the history of public health nursing in North Carolina.

Descriptive Summary

Mary Teague Thomas Papers
Call Number
Thomas, Mary Teague
1941 - 1993
2.00 boxes, 1.50 cubic feet
Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina

Series Quick Links

  1. Collection Contents

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Arrangement Note

The folders in Box 1 are arranged chronologically through her education and career. Box 2 contains textbooks and plaques.


Mary Teague Thomas' (1922-2012) career spanned forty-five years as a nurse and public health administrator. A native of Taylorsville, NC, she attended the Davis Hospital School of Nursing in Statesville, NC from 1941 to 1944, and began her career as an operating room Staff Nurse at Davis Hospital. From 1944 to 1957 she worked as an OR staff nurse or supervisor at the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, NC, Wilkes Hospital in North Wilkesboro, NC, Charlotte Memorial Hospital in Charlotte, NC, Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC, VA Hospital in Oteen, NC, Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, NC, and Greenville General Hospital in Greenville, SC. She enrolled in the Army Nurse Corps, First Reserve, in 1945.

In 1957, she took a position as a staff nurse at the Greenville County Health Department in Greenville, SC, then the Mecklenburg County Health Department in Charlotte, NC in 1962, and the Cumberland County Health Department in Fayetteville, NC in 1965. She remained in public health nursing and administration until her retirement in 1989, becoming Nursing Supervisor in 1970 and Director of Nursing in 1977 for the Cumberland County Health Department. Thomas was known for her compassion and "open door" policy" as an administrator. She championed home visits, school health programs, and pilot programs for social services. Her columns promoting Cumberland County Health Department services were featured in The Fayetteville Observer and The Fayetteville Observer-Times.

As a member of the American Nurses Association and the NC Public Health Association, she served on numerous committees and as a delegate for the North Carolina Nurses Association. She was President of the North Carolina Association of Public Health Nurse Administrators in 1975. She received the Margaret B. Dolan Award on September 15, 1981 for commitment, leadership and professionalism in the field of public health nursing; the North Carolina Public Health Association Service Award for 25 years of public health service in 1988; the North Carolina Nurses Association Community Health Nurse of the Year in 1989; and the North Carolina Association of Public Health Nurse Administrators Award, 1989-90. She retired in 1989.

Contents of the Collection

Collection Contents
Box 1

Education (1941-1944): Class Notes, Study Guides and Tests
Folder 1 - Handwritten notes; study guide; quiz from courses at the Davis School of Nursing, Statesville, NC.

Education (1942): Essays
Folder 2 - Handwritten essay by Mary Teague dated May 13, 1942 on "Overcoming Emotional Depressions."

Education (1944): Certification
Folder 3 - Photocopies of graduation announcement and diploma from Davis School of Nursing, February 24, 1944; registered nursing certification from North Carolina Board of Examiners on March 22, 1944.

Correspondence (1942-46): Military
Folder 4 - Twelve letters and one photocopied "V-note" from soldiers, spanning 1942-1946. Topics include basic training in Fort Monmouth, NJ; clerkship on Okinawa, with an enclosure of four photographs, and a 1945 "Okinawa" Christmas card; the possibility of Mary joining the Army; restricted conditions for redeployment nurses in France; songs on the "Hit Parade"; and the end of the war in Europe. Three recruitment brochures from the Navy Nurse Corps and Procurement and Assignment Service are enclosed in an envelope from the War Manpower Commission, dated March 19, 1945. Undated Thanksgiving menu from Pyote General Mess, Pyote Army Air Field, Pyote, Texas.

Correspondence (1944-46): General
Folder 5 - Postcards and letters from the 1940s include correspondence from a grateful patient at Davis Hospital; supervisor and founder of Davis Hospital School of Nursing, Elizabeth Hill, R.N., recommending post-graduate work on March 5, 1946; and an invitation to join the Business and Professional Women's Club from April 12, 1946.

Correspondence (1945-48): Red Cross
Folder 6 - Notification from March 23, 1945 of Mary Teague's enrollment in the Army Nurse Corps, First Reserve pending a physical, and assignment classification "Inst. Nurse, 1A," "available for military service." Correspondence related to the distribution, regulations for wearing, and eventual replacement of a Red Cross Nursing Service badge spanning 1945 to 1948.

Clippings (1940s-1952): World War II; Miscellaneous
Folder 7 - Largely undated newspaper articles include columns from Ernie Pyle and soldiers abroad writing "Letters Home"; photos of liberated British soldiers from the town of Gettingen, Germany; photos of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; stories covering nurses celebrating Thanksgiving with GIs at the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, NC; the state of the GI "Bill of Rights"; the fight against TB at the Wilkes Tuberculosis Sanatorium; the 25th Anniversary of the Wilkes Hospital in Wilkesboro, NC; alumni; nurses hosting parties; Davis School of Nursing alumnae publishing a quarterly news bulletin; changes in leadership at the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital; and the text of MacArthur's address to Congress dated April 19, 1951.

Career (ca. 1946-1950): Brochures & Newsletter
Folder 8- Constitution and By-Laws of Alumnae Association of Davis Hospital School for Nurses, Statesville, NC; brochure from Wilkes Hospital, Wilkesboro, NC; Davis Hospital Alumni Newsletter.

Career (1950-1953): Junior Women's Club
Folder 9 - Two yearbooks from the Junior Woman's Club.

Career (1951-1952): Oteen, NC/VA Hospital
Folder 10 - ID card; employee meal card; pay stub; Ward "Rules and Regulations" Memo; orientation schedule; information on the medical library; and letter of reference for Mary Thomas dated July 28, 1952 From the VA Hospital in Oteen, NC. VA materials include a manual, "Basic Principles of Aseptic Technique", dated March 30, 1946; pamphlet, "Pray Let Us Wash Our Hands", dated September 1947; and technical and classification information.

Career (1952): Greensboro, NC
Folder 11 - Employment offer letters from the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, NC to join the Operating Room nursing staff.

Career (1953): Eli Lilly Tour
Folder 12 - Materials from group visit with "Graduate Nurses from the State of North Carolina" as guests of the Eli Lilly Laboratories in Indianapolis, IN, including train ticket and menu, promotional brochure and book, and photos of the company and nurses.

Education (ca. 1951-1960s): Class Notes
Folder 13 - Sampling of tests, study guides, and notes for additional nursing coursework, including a handwritten notebook entitled "History of Nursing Notes".

Career (1956-1983): Elizabeth Hill, R.N.
Folder 14 - Photo of Elizabeth Hill, R.N., founder of the Davis Hospital School for Nursing, Davis Hospital, Statesville, NC, 1956; obituary of Elizabeth Hill from the Statesville Record & Landmark, August 17, 1983.

Education (1960): Essays
Folder 15 - Pair of written exams for a history course.

Correspondence (1961-1965): Air Force Reserve; Miscellaneous
Folder 16 - Letter and application to the Department of the Air Force for appointment in the Air Force Reserve Nurse Corps "without active duty." Response from the Air Force denying the application for commission in the grade of First Lieutenant because she exceeded the cut-off age of "34 years of age," and for lack of appropriate qualifications for an appointment as Captain. Pay stub and note from the Department of Health, Charlotte, NC.

Clippings (1969-1977): Healthcare; Miscellaneous
Folder 17 - Clippings from The Fayetteville Observer and The Fayetteville Times. Topics include the role of nurses in child care; the advocacy of Margaret Dolan, new president of the American Public Health Association; Richard Nixon's resignation; health tips; a grant for a new health department building in Cumberland County; the resignation of public health nurses and staff from the Cumberland County Health Department.

Career (1970-1981): Public Health
Folder 18 - Pamphlet, "What is Public Health?" by Edward G. McGavran, Dean Emeritus, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; certification from North Carolina State Board of Health for completion of Public Health Nursing Supervisory Training Program; report from 70th Annual Meeting, North Carolina Public Health Association, Inc. from 1981.

Clippings (1972-1976): Mary Thomas Columns
Folder 19 - Three columns from The Fayetteville Observer and The Fayetteville Observer-Times highlighting health department services, including immunizations and tests; home visits; tuberculosis screenings and follow-ups; communicable disease management; and preventative wellness visits for older adults.

Career (1975-1991): Professional Activity
Folder 20 - Program, North Carolina State Nurses Association dedication of the Marie B. Noell Headquarters Building in Raleigh, NC, 1975; programs, annual meetings of the North Carolina Nurses Association, 1978, 1983; program, dedication of the E. Newton Smith Public Health Center, Fayetteville, NC, 1981; program, Margaret B. Dolan award recipients, 1973-1988; handwritten notes for an undated speech, in which she tells her staff "you are the wheels that make the machinery of this dept. go. I'm merely the steering wheel, I see us as a team, giving service in a concerted effort."

Career (1981): Scrapbook
Folder 21 - Letter of congratulations for receiving the Margaret B. Dolan Award from the nursing staff at the Cumberland County Health Department, with scrapbook of historical clippings on the "History of Public Health Nursing in North Carolina." Nine subfolders of sets of pages from the scrapbook with photocopied clippings dating from 1932 to 1981 covering mortality statistics; treatment of the poor; health inspections for public establishments; pneumonia, rabies, influenza, typhoid fever cases; milk inspection reports; the role of health workers in the local county health department; the retirement of Malcolm T. Foster, Cumberland County health officer; a cancer clinic; communicable diseases; midwifery; Mrs. Amoret Davis, first public health nurse in Cumberland County; Planned Parenthood services; Xeroxed photos of department staff; birth control clinics; Kate Williamson, recipient of first Margaret B. Dolan Award, and her retirement; Mary Buie, Director of Nursing at Cumberland County Health Department; Dr. Carl Hammer's retirement as Cumberland County Health Director; planning, development and dedication of the new Cumberland County Health Department building.

Career (1988-1990): Recognition/Awards
Folder 22 - North Carolina Public Health Association Service Award for 25 years of public health service, 1988; handwritten notes for a thank you speech; program, awards banquet, North Carolina Nurses Association, 1989; correspondence related to her award as NCNA Community Health Nurse of the Year, 1989; resolution to honor Mary T. Thomas on occasion of her retirement, 1989; edition of "The Pulse", North Carolina Nurses Association professional bulletin, dedicated to Mary Thomas with accompanying tributes, on the occasion of her retirement, 1989; nomination form for North Carolina Association of Public Health Nurse Administrators Award, 1989-90 for her "32 years in Public Health, respected by all who know her."

Career (1989): Resume
Folder 23 - Resume, Mary T. Thomas, July 24, 1989.

Career (1989): Retirement
Folder 24 - Retirement
Retirement notice from the Tar Heel Nurse, official publication of the North Carolina Nurses Association, November-December 1989, praising Mary T. Thomas for her "dedication to her patients" and her leadership, under which "the Cumberland County Health Department developed one of the largest and most comprehensive programs for SSI recipients and tracks high risk infants. She was a strong advocate for home visits and saw and understood her patients as part of a total community."

Photographs (ca. 1940s-1989)
Folder 25 - Miscellaneous photos include portrait, Mary Thomas, ca. 1940s; surgical staff, Veterans Hospital, Oteen, VA; Kate Williamson receiving Margaret B. Dolan Award; the new and old Cumberland County Health Department headquarters; Mary Thomas' award ceremony, Margaret B. Dolan Award, 1981; North Carolina Nurses Association Convention and Nurses of the Year ceremony, 1989; Mary Thomas in Greenville, NC; Mary Thomas as Director of Public Health Nursing, Fayetteville, NC.

Miscellaneous (ca. 1940s-1968)
Folder 26 - Draft of undated letter by Mary to unidentified recipient discussing her job status and a delayed transfer; a list of possible notes or homework answers; lists of names and addresses; a clipping of a newspaper profile of Raleigh, NC; a memo from Channel 5, WRAL-TV, "Viewpoint," Jesse Helms, Executive Vice President, critical of social services, May 24, 1968.

Education (1962): Class Notes
Mini File Folder 1 - Annotated references of journal articles for nursing administration coursework. Index card subheadings include: Defects & Diagnoses; Adolescents & Teenage Problems; Health Services & Guidance; History of Nursing; Hospital - Home Care; Maternity & Child Care; Nutrition & Sanitation; Organization & Administration of School & Community Health Services; Studies on Children's Needs; Trends, Changing Roles; The Interview; Volunteer Agencies; Miscellaneous.

Box 2

Textbooks/Pamphlet (1937 - ca. 1950s)
Medical textbooks and a pamphlet: Textbook of Materia Medica: Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 1937; Notes on Bacteriology, 1937; Principles and Practice of Nursing, 1939; Studies in Ethics for Nurses, 1939; Communicable Diseases for Nurses, 1939; Applied Microbiology and Immunology for Nurses, 1940; Surgical Nursing, 1941; Nurse in the Public Health Program, 1954; "Recent Advances in Nursing", American Journal of Nursing, ca. 1950s.

Recognition/Awards (1986-1993)
Plaques honoring Mary T. Thomas: Chairman's Award, NCPHA, Public Health Nursing Section, Executive Committee, 1986 -1988; NC Nurses Association Community Health Nurse of the Year, 1989; Cumberland County Board of Commissions, Health Department recognition, May 14, 1965-April 1, 1989; Honorary Membership Award, NC Association of Public Health Nurse Administrators, November 15, 1990; appreciation, Better Health of Cumberland County Board of Directors, 1991-1993.

Subject Headings

  • Dolan, Margaret Baggett, 1914-1974
  • Hill, Elizabeth, 1886-1983
  • Williamson, Kate Webb, 1913-1988
  • Soldiers--Correspondence
  • World War, 1939 - 1945--Correspondence
  • Public health administration--North Carolina
  • Statesville (N.C.)
  • Fayetteville (N.C.)
  • Oteen (Asheville, N.C.)
  • Nursing--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Public health nursing--Study and teaching--North Carolina--20th century
  • Nursing--History--20th century
  • Processing Information

  • Processed by and finding aid created by Diane Lanctot in January 2016.