New Hanover County


Learn more about nursing history in New Hanover County


  • Information about Nurse Cora Mattocks, a Community Hospital graduate.
  • Information about Nurse/Superintendent of Community Hospital  Salome Taylor, R.N.
  • Transcript of interview with Nurse Marjorie Tinker, WWII nurse who served in New Guinea.
  • Letter from Alice Wentz, WWII nurse from Wilmington who served in England found at the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • Picture and a little information about Nurse Estelle Whitted who taught Obstetrics at Community Hospital in Wilmington for many years.
  • Photograph of Katherine Howe King, a St. Agnes graduate and early obstetrical nurse in Wimington
  • Johnnie Sutton Fields was born in 1930 in Warsaw, NC to John Sutton and Maggie S. Bell Boney Sutton.  After graduating from Rose Hill Colored High School in 1948, Fields entered the segregated Community Hospital School of Nursing in Wilmington.  She graduated in 1951 and began work as the evening supervisor at Community Hospital.  Fields later worked in the segregated “Colored Ward” at James Walker Hospital until she joined the staff of the Public Health Department in 1963.  In 1968 Fields became the first Registered Nurse employed at the Southeastern Mental Health Center.  She quickly was promoted to Director of Adult and Gerontological Services, supervising a staff of 30.  In 1989 she received the Health Care Professional of the Year Award for New Hanover County.  She was recognized for being instrumental in founding the Sherwood Village Apartments, which provide independent living for those with mental health issues, Ocean house, a community support program to teach those with disabling mental illness independent living skills and a supported employment program for the mentally ill.

    In addition to her busy work schedule, Fields has been active in the community.  She has chaired the Castle Street Association, and served on the Boards of the United Way, the Wilmington Historic District Commission and the Community Hospital Alumni Association.  She summed up her 41 year nursing career in an oral history with researchers from UNC-Wilmington in 2004 by saying “it provides the opportunity to give something back for having been so blessed with a profession, something back to aiding your fellow man either on a one on one basis or out in the community in a group or assembly forum.”

Schools of Nursing

  • Historic information about nursing education  in New Hanover County found in the Special Collections at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Library.
  • Babies Hospital in Wilmington conducted a nurses training program for senior students from across the state to learn pediatrics nursing from 1942-1967.
  • Archives of the James Walker School of Nursing Alumni Association.
  • UNC-W digital collection of nursing school yearbooks from New Hanover County.
  • Information about Community Hospital school of nursing.

Health Care Institutions 


  • Finding Aid to the papers about nurse Jean Powell found in the Randall Library at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
  • No author (1946) "The Public Health Nurse in Wilmington." The Health Bulletin 61 (7). p. 3-7.
  • Photographs from the Wilmington Public Library (look under A-ambulance and anesthetist , B - Babies Hospital and Barefoot, Miss Fredie; C - City County Hospital,  H - Hahn, Mrs. and Hospitals, J - James Walker Memorial Hospital, M -  Middleton, Clara, RN,  and N- Nurses)
  • Photograph of student nurses from the Morton Collection
  • Photographs of nurses from the Historical Society of the Lower Cape Fear.
  • 1910 Report of the NC Board of Public  Charities  mentions a "district nurse" (public health nurse) supported by donations to the Associated Charities of Wilmington (page 60) information about James Walker Hospital (page 65)
  • Early public health nursing timeline for Wilmington, North Carolina
  • 1929 letter from Columbia Munds, Public Health Nursing Director of New Hanover County to John Hamilton County Health Director, followed by early American Red Cross information from New Hanover County.
  • Article and poor quality photograph of Nurse Majorie Wheeler of Community Hospital announcing she earned a fellowship to study at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

UNC Wilmington Randall Library

Several years ago the staff at Randall Library Special Collections began collecting nursing memorabilia in conjunction with an oral history project. The project cumulated in a year-long exhibit and a webpage. The exhibit focused on the James Walker Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and the Community Hospital School of Nursing both in Wilmington. The webpage contains photographs of both hospitals, photographs of students and staff of both SON’s, photographs of uniforms and other artifacts. There are also links to the oral histories of the SON graduates, local physicians, nurses from local hospitals and the UNCW SON. There is also a link to the manuscript collection containing the papers of the James Walker Memorial Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association that was donated to UNCW.


Cape Fear Museum

The Cape Fear Museum permanent collection includes over 800 photographs, documents, uniforms, and objects relating to Lower Cape Fear nursing or nurses. These various collections date to the 20th century and relate, primarily, to the former James Walker Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, located here in Wilmington. But, we also have WWI and WWII objects related to the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, as well as items from our local Red Cross chapter. We are in the early stages of planning to make our collections accessible via our website.


New Hanover County Public Library

The New Hanover County Public Library 's North Carolina Room has an extensive collection about nursing, the Red Cross, local hospitals and the health department.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center

Healing Through Time: A History of Medicine in the Lower Cape Fear 
The New Hanover Regional Medical Center's exhibit - Healing Through Time: A History of Medicine in the Lower Cape Fear - documents the history of the practice of medicine in New Hanover and surrounding counties and includes a large variety of locally collected artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia. The chronological exhibit spans the length of the first floor visitor concourse. Informative, illustrated narrative panels accompany display kiosks featuring medical instruments, textiles such as nurses' uniforms, doctors' account books, old pharmaceutical products, and much more.