Chicago: Gibson Art Galleries, 195 - 197 Wabash Ave. . Grey mount, photographer stamped imprint under the b/w albumen photograph. Card: 7-1/4" x 5-1/4". Image: 5-1/2" x 3-7/8". Now housed in an archival mylar sleeve. Some edge-wear & soiling to mount. Image clear & sharp, with excellent tonality. A VG - VG+ example. Item #49556
Regarding Mench, in "The Inter Ocean" newspaper, June 7, 1899, of Chicago, Ethel A. Mench is named as part of the eighth graduating class of 12 women from the Michael Reese Training School for Nurses. We posit it as most likely this image was taken shortly after Mench's graduation (the photograph shows her holding a rolled-up paper across her lap, presumed to be a diploma or certificate).
From the "Chicago Tribune" in November 1891, "The training school for nurses at Michael Reese Hospital will soon be quartered in a new building. The school was organized a little more than a year ago, but there was a great want of room for the accommodation of the pupils and teachers...The structure will be ready for occupancy Jan. 1. It will have rooms for forty nurses and a new obstetrical ward fitted up with all the modern scientific appliances....The course of training is two years, during which time the pupils are allowed $8 a month for text books and uniforms. At the end of the first year they are sent out to private families, and for their services the hospital receives $15 a week."
"The Michael Reese Hospital School of Nursing put new students to work assisting in the hospital wards, where they learned working along with hospital physicians. In addition to practical training, students took courses in anatomy, physiology, and medicine. What began as a two-year program was extended to three years in 1895. Many young women came to Michael Reese directly after finishing high school; some had ambitions to go beyond their clinical nursing training to attend college afterward." [Wiki]
According to Federal Census reports, Ethel Mench was working as a private nurse in 1906 (we could not find a later report). She married John O'Connor in 1913 at age 36. She died in 1917, two years after giving birth to a daughter.
The photo was taken by Gibson Art Galleries, located on Wabash Avenue in Chicago. According to the Archives of American Art, "J. J. Gibson and his wife May Clark Gibson came to Chicago in 1893 to photograph the World's Columbian Exposition. Gibson Art Galleries was the official photographer for people at the World's Columbian Exposition. After the early death of her husband in 1902, May Gibson ran their photography studio, which eventually became part of the Montgomery Ward photography studio." On the back of the photo, Ethel's name was written, no doubt by a studio personnel, though misspelled as Mensch.
According to the individual from whom I acquired the photo, the person who previously owned this photo uploaded it to Ethel's Find a Grave page at the end of 2019 (so identifed because the name is written on the back matchs that on this photograph).
A nice primary source visually documenting this particular Chicago nurse at the beginning of her career, in which it is also depicted the profession's uniform at the end of the 19th C.