About Caroline Benoist

Caroline Benoist, Standing Portrait
Photo courtesy of the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Caroline H. Benoist was born March 12, 1896 in Natchez, Mississippi to Julia and Louis Benoist. She graduated from Stanton College in Natchez and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She entered John Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland in 1925. After graduation she became a surgical nurse at the Wilmer Eye Clinic at Johns Hopkins and later worked as a surgical nurse in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. She returned to Natchez, Mississippi and did limited private nursing duty. In 1936 she became one of the first public health nurses in Mississippi; her emphasis was on maternal and child health care.

She acquired advanced preparation in public health nursing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and in-home delivery services at Chicago Lying-In-Hospital. After that, she initiated a program at Pike County Health Department to assist physicians with home deliveries and taught and supervised lay “Granny Midwives.” In the 1940s Ms. Benoist was assigned to a specialized venereal disease program. An incubator that she designed and used as a public health nurse in Sunflower County is now in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (click here). Additional information about Miss Benoist’s time at Johns Hopkins is available here.

Ms. Benoist retired from nursing in 1944 to care for her aged mother. She died on August 23, 2000, at the age of 104 in Natchez, Mississippi in the house where she was born.

About the Collection

The Caroline H. Benoist collection includes materials owned and used by Miss Benoist during her career as a Public Health Nurse in Mississippi during the 1930s. The materials originated from various public health resources of the time period, located in different states and cities throughout the U.S. She spent time in Nashville, TN, where she received further education in Public Health Nursing at Vanderbilt, and in Chicago, IL where she learned about home delivery services at the Chicago Lying In Hospital. Documents from these locations are represented in her collection, along with evidence of Mississippi’s early efforts in Public Health Nursing coordination and practice. This small, but rich collection is contained in one box.

The digital collection, hosted on this site, consists of scans of photographs and documents from the source collection. Below is a slideshow of the photographs in the collection. To browse and search the entire collection, select "Documents" or "Photographs" from the main menu above.