6th & Stevens Streets - 7th & Benson Streets

Cooper Hospital
Looking South from
Chambers Avenue. Photograph was taken about 1890
Photo donated to Courier-Post by H. Genet Taylor of 305 Cooper Street in the late 1950s

Click on Image to Enlarge

A History through 1956
From the book

Camden County Medical Society, 1957


The founding of a hospital for the care of the sick and injured in the Camden area had long been a project in the mind of Dr. Richard M. Cooper, who practiced medicine in this vicinity for over thirty years. He died in 1874 without having actually seen the work started.

His twin brother, William D. Cooper, to whom the doctor bequeathed his estate; and his sisters, Sarah W. and Elizabeth B. Cooper, knew of his wishes and continued to talk and plan toward this end. William Cooper survived his brother Richard by only a few months. His sisters, together with his surviving brother, Alexander Cooper, designated the land to be used for this purpose and a Board of Managers consisting of Albert W. Markley, Charles P. Stratton, Rudolphus Bingham, Dr. Thomas Cullen, Joseph B. Cooper, John W. Wright and Peter L. Voorhees was appointed to carry out the venture.

These gentlemen applied for a charter, and an act of incorporation from the State Legislature was granted on March 24, 1875. The Cooper family conveyed the land, which was valued at $50,000, and established a fund of $200,000 for the purpose of building and operating the hospital.

Plans were drawn and building started. The hospital was completed in 1877, but the cost was such that, even with additional contributions from the Cooper family and other interested friends, there were insufficient funds to open and operate the hospital, although, in all, approximately a quarter million dollars had been given to build and endow it.

Ten years after its construction, the hospital was opened. During this time the invested funds and properties had increased sufficiently to warrant this step, even though an additional $30,000 was needed to refit the plumbing, and add a separate building for the laundry and other necessities.

Dedication exercises were held on August 11, 1887. Nurses had been secured, and a staff appointed. The physicians appointed to attend were Doctors H. Genet Taylor, A. M. Mecray, D. P. Pancoast and W. A. Davis.

The surgeons were Doctors E. L. B. Godfrey, O. P. Gross, Dowling Benjamin and J. F. Walsh. Dr. Joseph H. Wills was the first pathologist. Dr. Harry B. Jarrett was Resident Physician

The staff was duly organized and the various duties and assignments made.

One of the earliest services instituted was the Dispensary or Out-Patient Department.

The hospital grew and the table-like reports submitted showed increasing numbers of patients, and variation in diagnosis.

In 1890 Miss Rachael Bourke, a graduate of the Massachusetts General and McLean Hospital, was secured to act as Chief Nurse. The Training School for nurses was started and became almost immediately successful. Miss Bourke stayed on for thirteen years, and the Nursing School was developed as the hospital grew

The first published report was issued in 1892. At that time it was noted that there had been 2927 in-patients and over 16,000 out-patients treated at the hospital over a five year period. Doctors E. A. Y. Schellenger and Paul M. Mecray were Resident Physicians at this time, and assisted in compiling this report.

In each of the succeeding reports there is noted, as there is today, a need for more beds and other facilities.

The Nurses' Home was constructed in 1902 and opened early in 1903. Additional beds were added, and in the space vacated other facilities came into existence.

In 1907 the north wing was built. This permitted a laboratory, x-ray department and dining rooms on the first   floor. An operating room suite occupied the second floor and two small wards were situated on the third floor. These housed the obstetric and women's medical departments.

In 1911 a modern fireproof building was erected on the Sixth Street side for the housing of the out-patient department and rooms for private patients. This building now houses the men's medical department and a private floor for women.

In April 1921 the old laundry and power plant burned, and was replaced by a new power house with an entirely separate laundry. In 1924 the old porches at the east end of the old building were razed and replaced by a brick and reinforced concrete addition, which increased the bed capacity in the old wards and provided a children's department on the ground floor.

Mr. S. Canning Childs, one of the founders of the American Stores Company, gave the Ann Canning Building in memory of his mother. This building provided three floors for private and semi-private patients. A finished basement gave additional facilities to the rapidly growing out-patient department. It was opened in 1927.

Our services to the community were ever increasing, often under great difficulty, but the call was always met and the work done.

In 1939 the Campbell Soup Company gave and erected the new pavilion on Sixth Street, across the front of the old building, in memory of Dr. John T. Dorrance. This modern six story building houses operating rooms, a new children's department, three floors given over to the care of private and semi-private patients, and a modern laboratory space, staff rooms and library on the first floor.

Cooper Hospital

The new pavilion, still under construction, as seen from corner of South 6th and Mickle Streets

The trend toward hospital insurance has steadily decreased the demand for ward facilities and has demanded further semi-private accommodations. The Board of Managers has steadily improved and increased this type of service and only by so doing would the hospital have been able to carry on.

The courtyard between the old main building and the private build­ings to the south has been built up one story, and a modern x-ray department and office space have been provided. The removal of the children's department to the Dorrance pavilion made possible a roomy but still crowded admission and accident service.

Upon the opening of the Dorrance wing, the maternity department was transferred entirely to the Ann Canning Building. After World War II the main kitchen was extended toward Mickle Street, and the second floor was carried back, providing room for cafeteria space and food storerooms. The kitchen was entirely re-equipped with modern appliances and a "Food pak" service was instituted. It was then possible to clear the kitchen on the fourth floor of the Ann Canning Building and build a modern maternity, labor and delivery suite in this area. This has pro­vided the hospital with one of the best maternity delivery departments in the Philadelphia area.

The original hospital in 1887 had eighty-five to ninety beds to care for a population of 52,884. There were 370 patients admitted during the first year and approximately 15,000 visits to the dispensary.

In 1957 the hospital consists of 422 beds and ninety-five bassinets to take care of a city population of 120,000 and an adjacent suburban population of approximately 250,000. During the last year there were 14,411 patients admitted to the hospital; and 101,672 patients to the out-patient or dispensary service. And the end is not yet.

At this time a campaign is starting to replace the beds in the old building and add one hundred additional with increased ancillary services. This new construction it is hoped will be completed within another five years. The improvements are urgently needed. It is hoped that as has always been done previously, a way will be found to fill the need. 

Camden Courier-Post * May 19, 1964 

Cooper Hospital Open in City Since 1877

Cooper Hospital was incorporated the latter part of 1875, under the name of "The Camden Hospital," changed to The Cooper Hospital in 1877. The hospital actually opened August 11, 1887.

Dr. Richard M. Cooper, who died in 1874, "may well be recognized as its founder," say a hospital history, because of his in-! tense work in its behalf. William D. Cooper, a prominent Camden attorney and brother of Richard, carried on until he died in 1875.

Two sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth Cooper, and another brother, Alexander, gave the present site, plus $200,000, to be used for construction and operation of the hospital. The building was completed in 1877 but was not opened until a decade later because of insufficient funds. During the first 17 months, 370 bed patients were treated.   

Building Extended

In 1907 the north wing containing maternity, women's medical and operating departments opened. In 1911 the out-patient department and private floor building opened. East extension replaced outside porches in 1924.

In the 1920s the old laundry facilities were destroyed by fire and a separate laundry structure was built at the rear of the main building. In 1923 the east wing was extended to house a children's ward and the upper floors became medical and surgical wards.

The Ann Canning building was completed in 1926, the gift of S. Canning Childs. During the depression years expansion stopped. In 1940 the Dorrance building was opened. This addition was given by the Campbell Soup Co. as a memorial to Dr. John T. Dorrance, a prominent figure in Camden industry. Hospital bed capacity was then 441.

New Program Started

A long term building program started in 1950. New quarters for the radiology department and administrative offices were built between Ann Canning and the original building. A premature nursery and recovery room for post-operative patients were added in 1954. In 1955 construction was completed on the food service building, delivery suite and laundry annex.

In 1958 with the aid of funds provided by the CHIEF drive, a Federal grant and a Ford Foundation grant, construction was started on the north and south wings off the Dorrance building. Completed in May of 1960, these wings provide the hospital with a more than 700 bed capacity, making it the largest, general non­profit hospital in New Jersey.

Added features. included: Seven new operating rooms for a total of 12, two additional specialty equipped X-ray rooms, a prayer room, family-doctor consultation room, new Cooper Mart or coffee shop, lobby area, new and improved clinic areas, lounge and library for the medical staff, and a 34-bed intensive care unit. Modern Equipment

Cooper also has made huge strides in installing new and modern equipment, Robert Y. Garrett Jr., administrator, points out.

During World War II the hospital mobilized a corps of staff doctors and nurses known as the Cooper Unit which was attached to the U.S. Army Air Force in the Mediterranean area [as the 61st Station Hospital- PMC]. The shortage of qualified nursing personnel resulted in the hiring of non-professionals such as practical nurses, aides, clerks, messengers and attendants, each given special on-the-job training. These forces since have become an important part in effective hospital care.

The women's auxiliary, founded in 1919, has branched into 26 separate auxiliaries totaling more I than 1,400 members and has raised many thousands of dollars for the hospital. The women stage the annual Mart and Horse Show, the Charity Ball and numerous other events.

In 1887 government rules provided for a one-year course in nursing. This was extended to two years in 1893 and to three years in 1904. Fully approved by the New Jersey Board of Nursing the program is offered to 100 students 

Laboratory Course

In 1956 the course for laboratory technology began with three students. The 18-month course now admits six students twice a year.

Cooper Hospital is approved for 18 interns. The internship is general-rotating in character and is approved by the American Medical Association. Cooper offers 16 residencies in gynecology, medicine, obstetrics, pathology, plastic surgery, pediatrics and general surgery. The Cooper Hospital School of X-Ray Technology was the first in South Jersey to win accreditation of the Ameri­can Medical Association.

Newest additions to the hospital include the complete renovation of the main hallway, and a new office area in 1961 and a new pharmacy and emergency department in 1962. A new three-story service building is nearing completion. It will house an up-to-date laundry.

Seven-Day Operation

Cooper Hospital started a six-day week in 1962 which was increased to a seven-day week in 1963. All facilities are in operation now every day, including X­ray, laboratory, physical therapy and operating rooms.

The achievements of the World War II unit are worthy of more than passing comment. The idea was born in the hospital's staff room shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The result was the 61st Station Hospital, first civilian hospital group to be accepted by the War Department in World War II as a station hos­pital.

Before the next three years had passed the 61st treated an aided in the evacuation of more than 20,000 men wounded in combat in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

Two of its nurses were killed in overseas accidents. Five enlisted men assigned to the unit were killed during a mass air raid in Italy. Nine members of the unit were awarded the Bronze Star. The unit received the War Department Meritorious Service Plaque and Certificate of Merit; the Presidential Unit Citation and three battle stars. 

Showing North Wing Built in 1907
Showing North Wing Built in 1907
Showing North Wing Built in 1907
Private Patients Pavilion
& Outpatients Department

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 26, 1910

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 17, 1918

Cooper Hospital
First Methodist Episcopal Church
F. Morse Archer

Clara E. Brandt
Mabel Devitt
Berth E. Marriott
Rebecca Day McNutt
Edith M. Owens
Ida Stephenson
MAry Katherine West
Magdalena May Winters
Dr. Rufus M. Jones
Susan C. Francis
Alexander C. Wood



Camden Courier-Post * October 29, 1935

Cooper Auxiliary Pledges $3000 for Deep Therapy Fund
Charity Ball Plans Occupy Women Hospital Workers; New Member Elected

PLANS for the Sixteenth Annual Charity Ball in the interest of Cooper Hospital occupied members of the main auxiliary of that institution yesterday when they met for their monthly business session.

According to present plans, the ball will be held on December 27 in Convention Hall. This year the music committee, of which Mrs. Joseph Wallworth, of Haddonfield, is chairman, will present an orchestra of national reputation.

Members of the patroness committee will meet with the chairman, Mrs. Charles T. Murray, at her home, 114 White Horse pike, Haddon Heights, on Friday morning, November 8, at ten o'clock. 

Members of the auxiliary have issued a plea for magazines to be distributed throughout the wards. They will be received at the hospital at any time. The members also pledged the sum of $3000 to the board of managers of the Deep Therapy Fund.

Mrs. William Brown Thompson, of Collingswood, was elected a member of the main auxiliary at yesterday's meeting, and two resignations were accepted, those of Miss Elizabeth Eggie and Mrs. Frank Burr, both of Collingswood. Both Miss Eggie and Mrs. Burr have been active members of the group for many years.

The semi-annual tea for the Associate Auxiliaries throughout the city and suburbs will be held on Thursday in the Nurses Hall, with a business session preceding in the First M. E. Church, Sixth and Stevens streets. Miss Mary Louise Robbins is president of the organization.

Mrs. Harvey N. Scheirer, of Haddonfield, is president of the main auxiliary and is serving as general chairman of the ball committee.

Camden Courier-Post * February 17, 1938

Cooper Alumnae Plans Card Party for Tonight

The Cooper Hospital Nurses Alumni will hold a card party tonight in the 
Nurses Hall.

The affair has been planned in the interest of the fund for the endowment of beds in the institution. Arrangement have been made for both bridge and pinochle and games will start at eight o'clock. Guests will be permitted to pivot or progress within their parties..

Camden Courier-Post * February 17, 1938


The monthly meeting of the Parkside Auxiliary to Cooper Hospital will be held tomorrow in the board rooms with Mrs. Herbert J. Schoelkopf, president, presiding. Plans will be made for a card party to be held in the near future at the home of Mrs. Hiram E. Budd, 1407 Baird avenue.