Linfield College showcases inspirational children in Willamette Heritage Center exhibit

Archives and Special Collections at Linfield College is participating in a major exhibit at the Willamette Heritage Center. “When We Were Young: Childhood Around the Valley” opens Friday, Jan. 18.

The exhibit is the center’s third annual Heritage Invitational, and explores what it meant to be a child in the early Willamette Valley. Collections showcase everything from the toys, dolls and games of a bygone era to the lives of Albany teenagers from the late 1800s through the 1940s.

Linfield College will feature historical photos and a doll from the Good Samaritan Hospital and the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing, the oldest nursing school in the Pacific Northwest. The display highlights the ways in which children have touched the lives of medical professionals and patients alike, inspiring resilience and strength in the face of illness and death.

Children can be found throughout the long history of the hospital as sons, daughters, orphans and patients. The hospital impacted Oregon with its opening in 1875, a time when people from the surrounding counties put their sick, including children, on wagons and made the trek into Portland.

In its early days, the hospital included an orphanage for children. The wooden building was surrounded by vacant lots and housed 50 beds made of straw, and was lit by candles and gas lamps. Superintendent Emily Loveridge documented the introduction of exciting new technologies such as an elevator and x-ray machine.

As the hospital evolved from a small, struggling endeavor to a respected and well-known institution, its health care professionals assisted people through the Great Depression, World War II and the turbulent 1960s and ’70s. In 1985, its associated school of nursing transitioned to Linfield College. Throughout its history, children played a role in softening the effects of illness.

The Linfield College exhibit was created by recent graduate Rosa Gimson, who served as a student intern for Archives and Special Collections at Linfield.

Admission is free for members of participating museums and organizations, including the Linfield College community. The cost for the general public is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors. The Willamette Heritage Center is located at 1313 Mill Street SE in Salem, Ore. For information about the Linfield College collection, contact Linfield Curator Rachael Woody at or (503) 883-2734.

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