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Frances M. Ott nursing photographs

 Collection — Folder: SP176
Identifier: SP176

Scope and Contents

This collection includes 3 black-and-white photographs taken circa 1887 concerning to Frances M. Ott in Indiana. The photographs, depicting Ott in her nursing uniform sitting in a chair signed "Truly yours, Frances M. Ott"; a model of a patient bed with "1887" pinned to the sheets; and the tools of the nursing trade on a table: a bell, a syringe, a measuring cup, and what may be an Ensich thermometer. Ott purportedly had such a thermometer which resembled a ladies' watch, according to a 1947 newspaper article. In the portrait photograph, Ott is wearing a pin, which may be the first nursing pin ever issued in Indiana, dated 1886, which she also possessed.

The photographs were originally framed and hung on a wall and the collage was probably created in August 1916 in Plymouth, Indiana. The images were removed from the frame in 2022 due to preservation concerns.

There is also a photograph of Maggie Iddings, first student and graduate nurse in Indiana (1883-1885), according to the caption, which was removed from its frame in 2022.


  • 1916 August


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Frances M. Ott was born to Diller H. and Morthia Ott on September 28, 1864 in Bedford, Pennsylvania. She lost her parents and 5 siblings at a young age. Ott had 2 surviving younger siblings, a brother named Thomas J. and a sister, Mildred E. She was raised in Plymouth, Indiana. She tried teaching for 10 months, before deciding to switch careers. Ott became a student in the Indianapolis Flower Mission's nursing program at City Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1887, graduating in 1889. Ott worked as a nurse in rural Michigan after obtaining her degree. She then took a position as head of a private hospital in Three Oaks, Michigan. Next, her work took her to Chicago, Illinois where she became interested in professional nuring organizations. Ott was enlisted by the American Nursing Association to help form sections for private-duty nurses in 28 states. She took a position at Women's Hospital, founded by J. Marion Sims in Harlem in New York City, before returning to Chicago. Ott took extension work at the University of Chicago. Ott served as a "pioneer nurse" in Morocco, Indiana, where she was vital in stopping a typhoid epidemic circa 1900. She returned to work in Indianapolis in the next few years. She also worked in Wisconsin and Georgia.

During World War I, Ott joined the American Red Cross, recruiting student nurses and serving as a nursing instructor in Indiana and Kentucky. She also served in a Red Cross unit in Greenville, South Carolina, and although she organized an overseas unit, she was unable to serve in it herself due to her age. Ott continued working as a Red Cross nursing instructor after the war, traveling around Indiana and lecturing on home nursing. She taught Hygiene and Sanitation at Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing in Fort Wayne in 1921. Ott also remained heavily involved with the American Nursing Association, as well as the Indiana State Nurses Association and Federation of Women's Clubs.

Ott lived with her sister, Millie, and her family in Elkhart, Indiana from about 1924 until 1935. She was a member of Morocco lodge no. 271 of the Order of the Eastern Star and entered the Indiana Masonic Home for the Aged in Franklin on May 20, 1935 and lived there until her death. Ott died on April 25, 1954 of heart disease and was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Franklin, Johnson County, Indiana.

Sources: "Frances M. Ott." 1930 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 28, 2022. "Frances M. Ott." 1940 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 28, 2022. "Frances M. Ott." 1950 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 28, 2022. "Frances M. Ott." Indiana, U.S., Death Certificates, 1899-2011. Accessed June 28, 2022. "Frances M. Ott." U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995. Accessed June 28, 2022. "Frances M. Ott." U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999. Accessed June 28, 2022.

"Dividends of Satsifaction Return to Oldest Licensed Nurse in Indiana." Franklin Evening Star (IN), February 6, 1947. Accessed June 28, 2022. "Frances M. Ott." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed June 28, 2022.

"Funeral Rites for Miss Frances Ott, Pioneer Nurse, Held at Masonic Home." Franklin Evening Star (IN), April 28, 1954. Accessed June 28, 2022.

"Miss Frances M. Ott Dies Early Sunday." Franklin Evening Star (IN), April 26, 1954. Accessed June 28, 2022.

"Miss Frances Ott Dies in Masonic Home in Franklin." Columbia City Commercial-Mail (IN), May 11, 1954. Accessed June 28, 2022.

"Miss Frances Ott to Attend Meetings. Huntington Herald (IN), January 12, 1920. Accessed June 28, 2022.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2022/06/28 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2022/06/28 by Brittany Kropf.
Frances M. Ott nursing photographs
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.