While the nursing school at USC Upstate is relatively young – it was central to the creation of the USC Spartanburg campus in 1967 – its roots extend back much further. In 1921, Spartanburg General Hospital opened its doors, with a nursing school as part of its operations. The program graduated its first class in 1922, and continued to provide trained nurses to the hospital up through its final class in 1969.
In 1947, student nurses created their first school yearbook, The Little General. Like a typical high school yearbook, there are pictures of each class – freshmen, juniors and seniors (no sophomores, though juniors were divided into two classes). A copy in the USC Upstate archives contains autographs with inside jokes shared between friends. Pictures depict nurses studying in the library, preparing food in the nutrition lab and tending to babies in the nursery, while casual snapshots show lake outings, glee club and dances. There is even a superlatives page – most likely to succeed, most popular, most talented, biggest flirt.
The first edition of the yearbook was notable for another reason as well. For the first time in the school’s history, African American students were admitted to the program that year. “It is with admiration that we accept them into our School of Nursing, and may they be the inspiration of others to follow,” reads the message above the names and group picture of the six young women. Yet despite the welcoming words, the women are not pictured anywhere else in the book, nor do they show up in the yearbooks that immediately follow.
As the years went on, new school activities appeared in The Little General: cheerleading, basketball, softball. There was a school newspaper, too, “The White Cap,” first published on Feb. 21, 1951. The Little General continued to publish every year until the final class of senior nurses graduated in 1969. By then, Spartanburg General had partnered with the University of South Carolina to create USC Spartanburg, as hospital-based nursing programs nationwide transitioned to university-based models.
The USC Upstate archives currently holds every edition of The Little General but two – 1948 and 1951. University archivist Ann Merryman is hopeful that someone in the community may have those volumes and be willing to donate them, or bring them to the library to be scanned. She notes the yearbooks are important because they’re a direct link to the university’s history – “the precursor to us,” she says.
“It’s a real interesting part of our history,” Merryman adds. “It’s just another way to get our alumni and our community to connect back to us.”
YOU CAN HELP!
Do you have a copy of the 1948 or 1951 edition of The Little General, or any copies of “The White Cap” student newspaper? If so, we would like to connect with you! Please contact Ann Merryman, USC Upstate archivist, at 864-503-5275 or email@example.com.