Skip to main content

Margaret Mary Nicholson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS0256-UA

Collection Scope and Content

An artificial arrangement scheme was imposed on the collection. It had not been a working file or been kept by Margaret Mary Nicholson in any systematic fashion. The nature of the material suggested a topical/chronological approach. Materials range in date from 1912-1984.

The Education/Life Long Affiliations series represents Margaret Mary Nicholson's student days and alumni honors at St. Cecilia's Academy and The George Washington University. The St. Cecilia's material consists of original poems, composition books, newsclipplngs of social events, commencement memorabilia and speech, photos (1913-1917). It also Includes 1968 and 1978 alumni events. The George Washington University documents are bluebooks papers prepared in Medical School, memorabilia from the GWU 1925 commencement, a post-graduate training program and correspondence. The GWU Merit Award generated a number of clippings and correspondence. A photo of the presentation is included. This series also includes photographs of the 50th anniversary of the (Medical School) Class of 1925. The material spans 1921-1978.

The Medical Career series is divided into five major subject areas: internships, practice, conferences, professional associations, and publications. The Internship at St. Francis Hospital (Pittsburgh) section is represented by letters of recommendation, a summary of experience, photographs and negatives (1925-1926). Children's Hospital (Philadelphia), site of her second internship, is represented by correspondence, a notebook, a photograph of John Claxton (1927-1928) and a 1981 letter noting the establishment of the Margaret Mary Nicholson Fund.

Documents representing her practice and government practices Include sample prescription pads (various locations), calling and business cards, correspondence, a copy of her license from the American Board of Pediatrics, World War II gas rationing forms, a photo of Margaret Nicholson with a deformed infant, another examining a child, Children's Hospital (D.C.), appointment to the Senior Advisory Staff, the text of a speech by Milton M. Greenberg honoring Margaret Mary Nicholson and a photograph of the occasion. Also included is a copy of Margaret Mary Nicholson's application for employment (1928), certificates, awards and service commendations (1928-1979).

The section on conferences includes conference programs with a few annotations, clippings, and her passport. Documents relating to professional associations Includes correspondence, programs, committee papers, certificates of merit and training, official stationery, yearbooks, service awards and a photograph (1937-1978).

The section on publications includes an article written by Margaret Mary Nicholson In December 1954, "The Courier" of The George Washington University Medical Center. This issue also includes a biography of Nicholson. The years 1925-1981 are represented.

The Humanitarian Activities series forms a unique portion of the collection. It consists of correspondence received by Margaret Mary Nicholson from 1942 to 1952 in response to her charitable gifts to war victims In Europe. Appendix 1 lists these letters by date, sender, place of origin, and language and/or translation. The forms for overseas mall order service are included. Nicholson's activities in the Christ Child Society and the Medical Staff of Christ Child Convalescent Home are represented by organizational records, correspondence, awards and clippings. The papal honor "Pro Ecclesla et Pontifice" awarded In 1979 is documented with correspondence and photographs record The Washington Award, 1981. A diploma conferring an honorary doctorate. Trinity College, and copies of the title and dedication pages of books found among her papers round out this series. The material spans 1940-1981.

The Biographical Data Series contains Nicholson's baptismal/confirmation certificate, a 2-page original anonymous tribute (internal evidence suggests 1955), the text of the evening prayer memorial service, and photocopies of entries about Margaret Mary Nicholson in the "American Catholic Who's Wh"o and the "Social Record of Virginia" (1937).

Photographs are dispersed throughout the collection in instances where the visual enhances the document and size does not prohibit inclusion within the folders. The Photograph series includes additional photographs: two of members of the Nicholson family, seven formal portraits of Margaret Mary Nicholson (ca. 1906-1955) and four color photos of Nicholson in a social context later in life. Four group photos: St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing Silver Jubilee 1901-1906, George Washington University, Medical School Freshman, December 1921, an unidentified medical class (1925?), and The Medical Society of the District of Columbia, 1935 are included.

NB This scope and contents note was written by Sharon Galperin in 1984


  • 1901-1981


Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Historical or Biographical Note

Margaret Mary Nicholson (1899-1984) earned an A.B. (1922) and M.D. (1925) degrees from The George Washington University and was a pediatrician and professor of medicine in Washington, D.C from 1928-82. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia on November 26, 1899, she began her education at St. Ann's Episcopal School there, coming to Washington at about age ten. From that time on she was educated and lived her adult life In Washington, D.C.

After graduating from St. Cecilia's Academy, Nicholson studied for her baccalaureate at George Washington University from 1918-1922, and received her medical degree from George Washington University three years later. Two anecdotes from her days in medical school followed her all her life. Apparently, she often turned the lunch room into a dance floor, becoming the campus' own dance teacher. She also devised a unique system for transporting endangered infants from home deliveries to the hospital - a hot-water bottle lined orange crate attached to her bicycle.

Dr. Nicholson proudly opened her private practice In Washington in 1928. True to her orientation toward the disadvantaged, she became Chief, Department of Pediatrics, at Gallinger Hospital in Anacostia, where conditions were far from adequate. She worked with the D.C. Public Health Service for over forty years. Children's hospital, where she was Chief of the Department of Cardiology, was probably the focal point of her career. She also practiced at Columbia Hospital for Women, Washington Hospital Center, Sibley Memorial, Providence, Arlington, and Fairfax Hospitals. As a pediatrician and an authority on congenital heart disease in children, she joined the teaching staff of both The George Washington University and Georgetown University.

Honors came to her from every direction. She was the first woman recipient of The George Washington University's Medical Society's Award of Merit. She was also the first woman to chair the Pediatrics Section of the American Medical Association. In 1974, Georgetown University selected her for the university's Senior Pediatrician's Achievement Award. Providence Hospital awarded Dr. Nicholson a gold-headed cane, the highest honor possible for a physician-teacher.

In 1979, Margaret Mary Nicholson received the papal honor "Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface". She was a member of the Third Order of Carmelites for over a quarter of a century and a member of St. Joseph's Church all her life. Trinity College asked her to serve on the Board of Trustees and awarded her an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1982. She founded the Federated Catholic Physician's Guild and was very active in The Christ Child Society.

Professional organizations on all levels, from International to local, benefited from her contributing membership. She received special recognition as diplomate of the American Pediatrics Board and as a delegate for the American Medical Association to International Pediatric Congresses In Zurich and Havana. During and after World War II, Dr. Nicholson personally provided numerous care packages to European families in need; their responses to her generosity provide an interesting insight into the times. In semi-retirement, at the close of her life, Dr. Nicholson continued to demonstrate her love of children. By her own testimony, it was the motivating force behind her work in her profession and the church.

Margaret Mary Nicholson died August 26, 1984.

NB This sketch was written by Sharon Galperin in 1984


3 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Margaret Mary Nicholson (1899-1984) earned A.B. (1922) and M.D. (1925) degrees from The George Washington University and was a pediatrician and professor of medicine in Washington, D.C from 1928-82.

Collection Organization

Organized into five series: Education/Life long affiliations, Medical career, Humanitarian activities, Biographical data, and Photographs.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to Gelman Library in 1984 by Hazel Kreinheder, a long-time friend of Dr. Nicholson. All rights, including title, copyright, literary property rights, and access rights were granted to The George Washington University.

Guide to the Margaret Mary Nicholson papers, 1901-1981
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America