Chapter 02: Becoming a Medical Librarian

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Chapter 02: Becoming a Medical Librarian

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Mrs. McGready recounts how her brother helped her get into medical archiving by introducing her to Miss Elizabeth Runge at the University of Texas Medical Branch archives. She talks about the conflict with her parents over wanting to leave her studies at North Texas College to take a position as a medical librarian at UTMB. Daughter Cathy Bacon mentions a story about exposure to library work in Waco, during college. Mrs. McGready tells an anecdote about the "scholarship she gave to herself." She talks about her parents attitudes toward education. Next Mrs. McGready describes how Galveston was a "shopping place" in the early forties.

Publication Date

10-7-2016

Publisher

The Historical Resources Center, The Research Medical Library, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - Professional Path; On Texas and Texans; Personal Background; Professional Path

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. Yeah, amazing. Well, I’m wondering if your experience at the pharmacy and growing up in this kind of medical family kind of, you know, convinced you at an early age to go into something that was related to the sciences. Is that the case? How did you get interested in medical lib-- medical archiving?

Mary Catherine McGready

My brother was living in Galveston. He was in medical school. And he and his wife, Margaret, invited me to come for the summer. And he said, “I will get you a job -- not a paying job, but I’ve talked to the librarian, Miss Elizabeth Runge, R-U-N-G-E, and she said yes, she’d be happy to have you.” So for that summer I lived with him, and when time came to go back to college, I didn’t want to go back to college. I had two years, and I said, “This is what I want to do.” Daddy says, “No, you get your degree.” And I said, “Daddy, I know what I want to be.” And he finally agreed to one year. And at the end of that one year, he was convinced that I -- was satisfied. Because Mother and Daddy both were under the illusion you had to have four years in college.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Did your mom work?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, she was a schoolteacher.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, OK. OK.

Mary Catherine McGready

But no, she never worked after they were married. With five children...

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Right. (laughter) I mean, she worked, but... (laughter)

Mary Catherine McGready

[With?] my four brothers and I.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Sure. Absolutely. But you know, I’ve talked to women who are much younger than you, a different generation, and their parents didn’t necessarily think, “Oh, our daughter has to go to college.” So I think, “Wow, that’s pretty amazing,” that your parents wanted -- they thought it was really important for their daughter to get an education.

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, they think -- they think -- my daddy had a physi-- was a pharmacist, and my mother had been a schoolteacher. They knew the advantage. And then with the boys, they knew early that it was just essential to have good education.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Now what were you doing at Galveston that got you so interested in becoming a librarian?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, I worked for Miss Elizabeth Runge.

Cathy Bacon:

But before that, you were telling me a story -- it was someplace outside of Waco, there was somebody you were exposed to who was a medical records --

Mary Catherine McGready

I got it.

Cathy Bacon:

-- librarian. Is that true, (inaudible)?

Mary Catherine McGready

It was -- it was at North Texas College.

Cathy Bacon:

And you went there after Baylor.

Mary Catherine McGready

I did.

Cathy Bacon:

You were at Baylor your first year, and then at North Texas.

Mary Catherine McGready

Because it was a state school, cheaper. In fact, I had a scholarship to Baylor.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, you -- oh, you did? Where did -- where did you get your scholarship from?

Mary Catherine McGready

I gave it to myself.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

(laughs) Oh, you did?

Mary Catherine McGready

I did.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

You did?

Mary Catherine McGready

I had developed a style of writing -- my handwriting was horrible, and a high school teacher made me print the alphabet in about that much space on everything I turned in. Every page. And I just developed a style of writing. It was not Spencerian. It was more of a print.

Cathy Bacon:

And so you were asked to write everybody’s graduation things and the scholarship things. And you decided on the extra form, to fill herself in. And I think because of the --

Mary Catherine McGready

I had one extra.

Cathy Bacon:

-- family and -- and you were the fourth of the five children, it kind of led to her getting the scholarship --

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

I see.

Cathy Bacon:

-- for a year at Baylor.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

I see.

Mary Catherine McGready

Yeah, but I also, when...

Cathy Bacon:

I don't think we want to tell all, Mom. (laughter)

Mary Catherine McGready

OK. That’s enough.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So you were telling me about what it was you found so interesting about the work in the library. You know, why did you -- that make you decide...

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, my whole family was in medicine. My three brothers -- my grandfather Willis was a pharmacist. My grandfather Bussey was a doctor, an MD. And my four brothers -- my three brothers.

Cathy Bacon:

Was it -- I know you couldn’t have been a nurse, because any time any of us even got a skinned knee, we ran next door to Miss Jurek, the nurse, to administer it to us. But was it a way for you to stay -- to go into the medical field in some way in that day and time, when -- to go into medical library science?

Mary Catherine McGready

And I wanted to live in Galveston, to...

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, you did? (laughter) Why is that?

Mary Catherine McGready

To live in Galveston? I’d move down there now if I could.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, really?

Mary Catherine McGready

I loved it.

Cathy Bacon:

Well, it was a pretty hopping place, back in the ’40s, early ’40s.

Mary Catherine McGready

The medical school there was a fun place. I can tell you all about the dances every Saturday night. Every fraternity had a row. There were six fraternities, five and then the Jewish fraternity, who did not include the -- so the five. Five, and then the sixth was the Jewish. And every Saturday night, there was a formal dinner dance at their fraternity house. You got an invitation. You got a dance program. I guess that was the thing of it. So on Saturday night, everyone would dress in long dresses and go into the party.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It sounds like a wonderful place for a young woman to be.

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, (laughs) it was fantastic.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. Yeah. So tell me more about your working situation. What did you do, and -- in your internship? What were you learning about library science?

Mary Catherine McGready

I learned to do a little bit of cataloguing, but where I really got my training was in Galveston, under Lily Runge, Miss Runge. And that’s when I went down for the summer and didn’t want to go home. And they finally agreed I could stay one year. That was it. But I got it extended. So I had two years in college, and I did that.

Chapter 02: Becoming a Medical Librarian

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