Sunday, February 23, 2014

Collector of Nursing Artifacts Featured At National Gallery

By Bryan Shupe

Physician Liaison and Registered Nurse at Bayhealth Medical Center Chris Foard has been a collector of historical artifacts for over a decade, focusing his searches on the American Civil War and the evolution of the medical field in the United States. With over 3,000 pieces in his personal collection, Foard currently has four pieces of history from that collection featured in the National Gallery of Art, located on the National Mall in Washington DC.

A veteran of the United States Army, Foard served his country for four years and received an education as a civil engineer in the service. After working for an engineering firm in Wilmington, Delaware for several years, Chris decided to change his profession to a not only growing industry but an occupation that has been an tradition among the Foards. As he decided to go into the nursing field, he joined a total of fourteen nurses in his family.

Joining his passion of nursing and collecting historical artifacts together, Chris began his large collection of civil war nursing uniforms, photos, literature and instruments. Donating his unique pieces to several historical institutions including the Museum of Civil War Medicine, Clara Barton National Historic Site and Carlyle House Historical Park, Foard is very excited about his historical artifacts that are on display currently at the National Gallery.

“I have always been intrigued with early nursing, commented Foard. “It is so interesting to see the instruments they used and the procedures they followed. Educating the public and sharing my collection is a big part of what I am about.”

Among the four piece of history Chris is displaying as part of an exhibit on the 54th Massachuettes Regiment, one of the first African American regiments during the Civil War, is a photograph of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross and one of the most well know humanitarian in United States history. The photograph is signed by Barton herself and according to Foard is only one of two in existence. Another piece on display is a book written by Susie Taylor, the only African American to publish a memoir of her experiences during the Civil War.

“So many people do not know the history of our country and how far the medical field has come,” commented Chris. “It is also interesting to see some of the same practices still used in modern day nursing such as infection control, prioritizing care and compassion for patients. Nurses today can learn a lot from these nurses and their ability to give the therapeutic touch to their patients by showing compassion and just being there for the patients.”

A larger part of Foard’s collection can be viewed locally on display at the Milford Museum in downtown Milford, which he donated to the organization in 2010. This collection includes records and equipment from the Milford Memorial Hospital School of Nursing , which originally came from Mrs. Amelia Donovan McSweeny who graduated from the school in 1934.

In addition to viewing the collection at the Milford Museum, Mr. Foard encourages individuals to check out the National Gallery exhibit, The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial, in Washington DC.

“The National Gallery is so close to us and has so many interesting exhibits on our history. You do not have to be a nurse or in the medical field to enjoy the exhibit on the 54th Regiment,” commented Foard. “Learning about our own history is very interesting and exciting.” Individuals can find more out about the exhibit on theThe 54th Massachusetts Regiment by visiting the National Gallery online at


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