Kenny, Elizabeth, 1886-1952

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Elizabeth Kenny, the daughter of Michael and Mary Kenny, was born September 20, 1886 in New South Wales, Australia. At 16 she graduated from St. Ursula's College, Queensland, Australia. She received her nursing training at a private hospital and served as a nurse in the Australian bush country from 1911 to 1914. It was during this period that she encountered her first case of infantile paralysis (1909) and developed her treatment for the disease. During World War I Kenny served as an Australian Army nurse and was promoted to the rank of "sister," the Nurse Corps equivalent to a first lieutenant.

After the war Kenny returned to civilian nursing. Her treatment and concept of infantile paralysis gained the recognition of the medical profession and the support of the Australian government. Her clinic at Townsville was given government status and Kenny clinics were established throughout the country.

Kenny came to the U.S. in the spring of 1940 but was disappointed by the cool reception her treatment technique received on the West and East coasts. In June 1940 she demonstrated her treatment at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis General Hospital. The medical personnel at these institutions accepted Kenny's treatment method as an entirely new concept of infantile paralysis and the first American treatment center was opened at Minneapolis General Hospital. In December 1942 the City of Minneapolis established the Elizabeth Kenny Institute and the following year the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Foundation was formed to financially support the Institute's work and to forward the teaching of the Kenny method throughout the U.S. and abroad. Elizabeth Kenny died November 30, 1952 at her home in Toowoomba, Australia.

Biographical data was taken from the collection.

From the guide to the Elizabeth Kenny papers., 1862-2001 (bulk 1942-1952)., (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation records, 1941-2006 University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]
referencedIn Minnesota Poliomyelitis Research Committee papers, circa 1940s-1970s University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]
referencedIn Delano, Jack. Jack Delano papers, 1927-1995 (bulk 1941-1943). Library of Congress
creatorOf Elizabeth Kenny papers., 1862-2001 (bulk 1942-1952). Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. Hospital records, 1882-1982. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn James Ford Bell and family papers., 1861-1978. Minnesota Historical Society
creatorOf Kenny, Elizabeth, 1886-1952. Elizabeth Kenny papers, 1862-2001 (bulk 1942-1952). Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
referencedIn Records of the Army Staff. 1903 - 2009. Photographs of U.S. and Foreign Military Personnel, Defense Department and Other Government Officials, Royalty, and Heads of State. 1964-1974. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Helland, Janice Saunier. Janice Saunier papers, 1947-1951. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Kenny R.E.H.A.B. Records, 1945-1997, 1950-1964 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Wallace, Elizabeth. Papers, 1913-1955 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Kenny, Elizabeth, 1886-1952. [Letter and report from Sister Elizabeth Kenny to the Rt. Hon. Earle Page regarding the Royal Commission on the Investigation of Infantile Paralysis]. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Jay Arthur Myers papers, 1914-1977 University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]
creatorOf Bell, James Ford, 1879-1961. James Ford Bell and family papers, 1861-1961. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 1921 - 2008. Audio Recordings. 1945 - 1965. This I believe. No. 103 ; This I believe. No, 104 ; This I believe. No. 105 ; This I believe. No. 106 : This I believe. No. 107 ; This I believe. No. 108 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Kenny R.E.H.A.B. Kenny R.E.H.A.B. records, 1945-1997 (bulk 1950-1964). University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Wallace, Elizabeth, 1865-1960. Papers, 1950-1955. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Jack Delano Papers, 1927-1995, (bulk 1941-1943) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. corporateBody
associatedWith Alexander, Wade 1931- person
associatedWith Bell, James Ford, 1879-1961. person
associatedWith Cohn, Victor, 1919- person
associatedWith Cole, Wallace H. person
associatedWith Cole, Wallace H. person
associatedWith Curtis, Dorothy E. person
associatedWith Curtis, Dorothy E. person
associatedWith Dayton, Donald C. person
associatedWith Dayton, Donald C. person
associatedWith Delano, Jack. person
associatedWith Delano, Jack. person
associatedWith Elizabeth Kenny Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Emergency Polio Committee (Minneapolis, Minn.). corporateBody
associatedWith Gudakunst, Don W. person
associatedWith Gudakunst, Don W. person
associatedWith Haverstock, Henry W., 1922- person
associatedWith Helland, Janice Saunier person
associatedWith Henderson, Melvin S. (Melvin Starkey), 1883-1954. person
associatedWith Henry, James. person
associatedWith Henry, James. person
associatedWith Huenekens E. J. person
associatedWith Huenekens E. J. person
associatedWith Kenny R.E.H.A.B. corporateBody
associatedWith Kenny R.E.H.A.B. corporateBody
associatedWith Kline, Marvin L. person
associatedWith Kline, Marvin L. person
associatedWith Knapp, Miland. person
associatedWith Knapp, Miland. person
associatedWith Krusen, Frank H., 1898- person
associatedWith Minnesota Poliomyelitis Research Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Myers, J. Arthur (Jay Arthur), 1888-1978 person
associatedWith National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. corporateBody
associatedWith O'Connor, Basil, 1892-1972. person
associatedWith Page, Earle Sir, 1880-1961. person
associatedWith Pohl, John F. person
associatedWith Queensland. Royal Commission on the Investigation of Infantile Paralysis. corporateBody
associatedWith Ray-Bell Films. corporateBody
associatedWith Reid H. Ray Film Industries. corporateBody
associatedWith RKO Radio Pictures, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Russell, Rosalind. person
associatedWith Sister Elizabeth Kenny Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallace, Elizabeth, 1865-1960. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Australia
Minnesota
Subject
Nursing--Practice
Nurse--physician joint practice
Women in medicine
Poliomyelitis--Alternative treatment
Nurses--History--20th century--Sources
Poliomyelitis--Research
Medicine--Practice
Poliomyelitis--Treatment--History--Sources
Poliomyelitis--Nursing
Children--Diseases--Treatment
Nurse and physician
Women in medicine--Minnesota
Poliomyelitis--Patients
Nurse and physician--United States
Poliomyelitis--Hospitals
Occupation
Nurses--Minnesota
Activity

Person

Birth 1886

Death 1952

English

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SNAC ID: 68601904