Ruth Halland Interview, February 20, 1992


Ruth Halland


Gladys Peterson



Download Audio Interview (63.2 MB)

Download Transcript of Ruth Halland Interview (336 KB)


Ruth Halland recalls her experiences as a nurse during the 1930s-1960s. She describes getting her certification as a nurse during the late 1920s, then going back to school in the 1960s at Montana State University Billings, and later Bozeman, in an effort to obtain her nursing degree. Halland discusses the importance of continuing education in the nursing profession and how nurses should look for opportunities to update their knowledge due constant advances in the medical field. She talks about spending the majority of her nursing career at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and describes the hierarchical system of women nurses deferring to male doctors and younger, student nurses deferring to older, more experienced nurses. She talks about her training as a nurse anesthetist, mentioning that this was one of the highest, most respected positions a nurse could have because even doctors didn’t know how to administer anesthesia. Halland also describes her encounters with sexism and racism in her interactions with both coworkers and patients. She recalls working with polio and tuberculosis patients, the effectiveness of iron lung treatment, as well as her own diagnosis with tuberculosis after being exposed to a deceased patient during an autopsy. She concludes the interview by discussing the role of men in nursing.


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Document Type

Oral History


Polio; Tuberculosis; Cook County Hospital; Chicago, Illinois; Nursing, Illinois; Nursing, Montana; Montana Nurses’ Association; American Association of Nurse Anesthetists; Sister Kenny; Barnes-Jewish College, nursing; Wesley College, nursing; Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America; Hospital hierarchy; Nursing profession, gender roles; Medicine, advances in; Nursing, advances in; Nurses training; Nurse anesthetists

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Nurses in Montana Oral History Project, OH 259, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

Digital Publisher

University of Montana-Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 /

Oral History Number

OH 259-024

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

1 sound cassette (60 min.) analog + 1 transcript (19 p.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

00:49:09 minutes

Local Filename

OH_259_024.mp3; OH_259_024.pdf

Ruth Halland Interview, February 20, 1992