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Exhibit at Jacksonville's Old Brewster Hospital highlights work of city's African American nurses

The hospital opened in 1901 and was Jacksonville's first hospital for African Americans.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's a trip down memory lane at the Old Brewster Hospital on Jacksonville's West Monroe Street.

"I graduated in 1961. I did 42 years in nursing altogether," said Doris Putman.

She dreamed of becoming a nurse.  Brewster Hospital was the city's first hospital specifically for African Americans.  It also had a training school.

She remembers segregation.

Credit: Courtesy: Brewster Nurses Gallery

"We weren't allowed to the white hospitals. And they had the nursing programs because we weren't allowed in the white programs," Putman said.

Part of Brewster's history, which opened in 1901, is now on display inside the old hospital thanks to preservation work by the North Florida Land Trust.

Putman believes a gallery of documents, pictures and other items, provides a glimpse into what she says was the proud work of women who deserve to be recognized.

Credit: Courtesy: Brewster Nurses Gallery
The gallery exhibit was curated by the Brewster Nurses and Community Alumni Association and features photographs, documents and other memorabilia that showcases the history of Brewster Hospital.

"History, as far as I am concerned is nothing to be ashamed of, but something to let people know what happened. If you don't know where you came from, how do you know where you are going?" she said. 

More memorabilia is being gathered to put on display.  

You can tour the gallery by making an appointment Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. You can call (904) 479-1967. 

Credit: Courtesy: Brewster Nurses Gallery
Brewster was built in 1885 and opened in 1901.

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