Ethel Wilson Ewen Papers, 1906-1981 (bulk 1906-1919)

Accession: 2007-111
Extent: .10 linear foot
Restrictions: None.
Copyright: Copyright for some materials has been transferred to the University of Louisville


Ethel May Wilson was born in Owsley County, Kentucky in 1888 to Robert and Mary Wilson. She graduated from the Berea College of Nursing in 1910 and for the next seven years did private duty nursing. She returned to Berea for additional classes in 1917, withdrawing in Spring 1918 to join the Army Nurse Corps. Wilson reported for duty in June 1918 at Base Hospital #59, Camp Upton, New York. The nurses from that unit sailed in early September, eventually arriving at the hospital center at Rimercourt, France. In November Wilson was sent to St. Dizier and assigned to #41 French hospital.

Wilson shipped back to the United States in June 1919, and was discharged from the Army Nurse Corps in August 1919. In October she married Edward T. Ewen, an Army medic who she met in France. She gave birth to the first of four children in August 1920.

Ethel worked at home caring for her children, then from 1933 to 1936 she practiced midwifery in rural Owsley County. In 1936 the Ewen family moved to Berea and Ethel worked at the Berea College Hospital. After the children were grown, she moved to Louisville, where she did private duty nursing and worked at the Jefferson County Children's Home, Ormsby Village. Upon divorcing Edward Ewen, in 1946 she married Lucien Brewer and moved to Oakland, California. Needing surgery, she returned to Louisville two years later and divorced Brewer. When her health improved, she worked at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth and St. Joseph Hospitals, finally retiring at age 70. A stroke at age 82 incapacitated her and she died at age 91.

Scope and Content Note

This small collection (.10 linear foot) consists of her school records from Berea College, her Army Nurse Corps paperwork, some other World War I memorabilia, and her copies of the Kentucky State Board of Health Certificate of Birth from when she practiced midwifery. These materials were donated to the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center by her daughter, Mary Frances Meadows, in 2007. There is a short biography of Ethel Wilson Ewen in the donor file.

Box List

  • School records, Berea College 1906-1910
  • Army Nurse Corps Records, 1918-1919
  • World War I photographs (photocopies), 1918-1919 (Including photograph of BH #59 nurses while in New York, Summer 1918)
  • Correspondence, 1918 and 1967
  • Greetings from General John J. Pershing, 1918
  • World War I poem, handwritten, by Jane Weston, B.H. #59 [1919]
  • Kentucky State Board of Health Certificate of Birth, physician's record, 1933-1936
  • Certificate of Honor, from President Jimmy Carter, [1981-1985]