• Great Depression;
  • history of public health nursing;
  • Mary S. Gardner

ABSTRACT This historical commentary reprints excerpts from Mary Sewall Gardner's January 1, 1931, editorial in the original Public Health Nursing journal. Gardner (1871–1961) directed the Providence District Nursing Association until her retirement in 1931. She had also served as president of the National Organization for Public Health Nursing. In her editorial, Gardner sought to relieve the sense of hopelessness caused by the deepening Depression and ameliorate the fear that public health nursing advances had been reversed. An introduction to the impact of the Great Depression on working classes and its impact on organizations responsible for visiting nurses provides the background to help evaluate Gardner's intent. Her words find parallels in the inaugural address of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. This suggests that the pervasive crisis produced a distinctive tone and perspective of interdependence and mutual resolve that leaders used to help their followers through troubling times.