Broughton Hospital and School of Nursing

Overview of the Broughton Hospital and School of Nursing

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Broughton Hospital nursing graduating class of 1933


An asylum for the "white insane" living in the western half of the state was opened in Morganton on March 29, 1883.  Shortly thereafter, approximately 100 patients were transferred by rail from the crowded Dix Hospital in Raleigh. During the first two years of operation, 252 patients were treated.

The name of the hospital was changed from the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum to the State Hospital at Morganton in 1890. This name was retained until 1959, when it was changed to Broughton Hospital after then Governor J. Melville Broughton.

1895 - 1962

A Nursing School operated at Broughton Hospital in Morganton. It admitted white female students.


A Nurses Home was built on the campus of Broughton Hospital.


Staffing figures from Broughton Hospital indicated there was one physician to 355 patients and one attendant to 13 patients. Nurses were on duty 15 hours per day including Sundays, with one afternoon off each week from 2-6 PM and one evening off from 7-10 PM. 


In 1963 the Community Mental Health Act was passed and President John F. Kennedy called for the creation of 2,000 community mental health centers, which were to be within the geographic and economic reach of all citizens.  Community Mental Health centers were established in many North Carolina communities, but were never funded at levels to provide adequate services to all who needed them  The role of the state mental hospitals was lessened.


  • Biographical information about nurse Nancy Vance, a graduate of the State Hospital at Morganton School of Nursing.
  • The official history of Broughton Hospital
  • Broughton Hospital finding aid 2010
  • A paper by Carrie Streeter,  an Appalachian State University history graduate student about nursing at Broughton is attatched below.


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Theatrical Entertainments and Kind Words.pdfPDF215.3 KB