One-of-a-kind Book Donated to University

    Edward Leahy ’68, H’01, former chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, donated a one-of-a-kind book to The University of Scranton’s Panuska College of Professional Studies. “Nursing Notes” is a series of classroom notes meticulously taken by Ella V. Wilderson, as student at the Boston City Hospital Nursing School from 1894 through 1897. From left are: Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of the Panuska College of Professional Studies; Catherine Lovecchio, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Nursing Department at the University; Leahy; and Jeffrey Gingerich, Ph.D., senior provost and vice president of academic affairs at Scranton.
    November 13, 2018

    A University of Scranton alumnus and long-time benefactor also renowned for his rare-book collection has donated a one-of-a-kind book to the Panuska College of Professional Studies.

    Edward Leahy ’68, H’01, the former international business lawyer and litigator, who now works in international finance as managing partner of Solsuus LLC in Washington, D.C., has always had collecting preferences, including important 15th-century books, especially Bibles, first-edition English literature, fine bindings, illuminated manuscripts dating to 1260, children’s books, Gothic horror and science fiction. But recently, he was invited by a reputable rare book dealer to take a look at an odd manuscript volume of “Nursing Notes.”

    Although he was a bit skeptical, he asked the dealer to send the book to him for review.

    Leahy was, to say the least, very impressed.

    “Nursing Notes” is exactly as billed, i.e., a highly detailed complete set of classroom notes taken by nursing student Ella V. Wilderson during her course of study at Boston City Hospital School of Nursing from 1894 through 1897. The notes, Leahy said, are meticulous – “neat, precise and careful” – and handwritten using the Palmer Method, developed in the late 1800s.

    The notes contain the date and topic of each lecture and the name of the professor who gave it and were taken in the type of ledger book common to that day.

    With the content nothing short of fascinating and covering everything from pregnancy and pediatrics to wound care, surgery and anesthesia, Leahy knew he had something special and the perfect place to receive it. He purchased the book immediately, recalling how when he taught law at Oxford University from 1998 until 2016 he became aware of a master’s program at Oxford called The History of Medicine. He recommended the program to undergraduates who were considering applying to medical school, he said, reasoning there can be no better preparation for a medical career than to understand medicine’s history.

    “That same thought ran through my mind when I received this book,” he said. “I thought, ‘If I give this book to Scranton, I would want it on the Intranet so all nursing students can see it and read it.’”

    “If I were a nursing student,” Leahy said, “I would not pass up an opportunity to read every single one of these lessons. The notes will captivate readers.”

    The University accepted the gift with extreme gratitude, said Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of the Panuska College of Professional Studies, where Leahy sits on the Board of Visitors, and indeed will place the book on the Intranet before donating it to the Weinberg Memorial Library with Leahy’s blessing.

    “It’s like a piece of history, like going back in time,” Dr. Pellegrino said. “If you would see the penmanship, my goodness, there used to be a time when everyone would write like that.”

    Any who see the book in its final library home are likely to marvel not only at the Palmer penmanship but at the careful restoration Leahy commissioned. He took the book to Donald Rash, a Wilkes-Barre bookbinder, who refurbished its leather spine, replaced its leather corners, reinserted the fly leaves and generally tightened the volume. He also constructed a special clamshell case to house the book, in beautiful Scranton purple, Leahy said.

     “They are amazingly comprehensive notes,” Leahy said, adding he did some further research on Ella Wilderson and learned that, by 1906, a mere nine years after graduating from nursing school, she was the principal of nursing training at the Woman’s Hospital in New York City.

    “She was obviously very bright,” said Leahy, whose own background in books goes back to his days as a Scranton student, when he spent a good part of his four years working in the basement of what was then Alumni Memorial Library repairing old, damaged books.

    “My job was to save as many books as I could,” he recalled, noting his continuing passion for the importance of the craft, especially in the case of “Nursing Notes” for today’s nursing students.

    “If you know where a subject was,” he said, “you might have a better insight into where it might go.”

    • alt placeholder
    • alt placeholder
    • alt placeholder
    Back to Top