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About Frances Payne Bolton: Early Life

Frances Payne Bolton was born on March 29, 1885. She served as Republican congresswoman from Cleveland's 22nd District for 29 years. She was also noted for her financial support of many projects, particularly in the fields of nursing, health, and education.

She was born in Cleveland, to Charles William and Mary Perry Payne Bingham. Her father was a prominent banker-industrialist and they lived in the Perry mansion on Euclid Avenue near East 21st Street. This site was part of '''millionaires' row" and is now occupied by Cleveland State University. She was 13 when her mother died, so she was reared by her father and a German governess. She was educated at Hathaway Brown School and attended Miss Spence's School for Girls in New York City from 1902-1904. She also studied music in France, for at one time she had wanted to pursue a singing career.

BoltonOn her return to Cleveland in 1904, she worked as a volunteer with the Visiting Nurse Association, accompanying the nurses on their rounds in the poor neighborhoods. This experience marked the beginning of a lifelong interest in the nursing profession.   According to Olga Benderoff, "Mrs. Bolton belonged to a 'Brownie Club' (nothing to do with the Girl Scouts) where ten-year-olds used to get together and make souvenirs (e.g. towels, pin cushions, etc.) which they sold and sent the money to the mountain people in Appalachia. As the Brownie Club members grew up they continued to get together and, by the age of 18, adopted the Visiting Nurse Association as their charity and made dressings and bandages for the nurses to use when they attended the sick in their homes. The young debutantes were very active in the community. Mrs. Bolton was not satisfied with making dressings, so at age 18 she started going with the visiting nurses when they made calls on the poor sick. 'Many a time,' Mrs. Bolton said, 'I scrubbed kids in the slums.' This experience with the Visiting Nurse Association helped her to develop a philosophy: 'You must give something to someone to be happier, especially when that gift is your own time and strength.' This philosophy guided her throughout her life."

She married Chester C. Bolton in 1907, but did not retire from civic life. She realized, according to Miss Benderoff, that she was being raised in a man's world and, if she were to succeed in helping others, she must be knowledgeable and forceful in presenting her ideas. In 1907 she put this theory into practice when she was invited to speak at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Lakeside Hospital on the subject of living and working conditions of nurses. Her presentation impressed the board, and Samuel Mather gave the money to expand the nurses' residence by adding two extra floors to the dormitory at old Lakeside in 1911. In 1918, Mrs. Bolton was appointed to the Board of Lady Managers of Old Lakeside School of Nursing, and in 1919 she and her sister, Mrs. Dudley Blossom, started a low cost, non-profit residence for young businesswomen. It was known as the League House.

In the decades of the 20s and 30s, in addition to raising her three sons, Charles Bingham (who was handicapped in a diving accident at the age of 19), Oliver Payne and Kenyon Castle, Mrs. Bolton remained very much involved in the promotion of nursing. During World War I, she was instrumental in persuading Secretary of War Newton D. Baker to set up an Army School of Nursing rather than relying on untrained volunteers. She was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Lakeside Hospital in 1921. She contributed funds to establish and endow the School of Nursing at Western Reserve University because, according to the recollections of Olga Benderoff, she felt that nurses should have college education as well as nursing training. Her substantial donation enabled the University to raise the School of Nursing from a department of the College of Women to the rank of a separate college at the University in 1923.

In June 1935, the school was renamed the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in honor of her continued support and interest. Mrs. Bolton had donated money in 1927 for a temporary dormitory, primarily for the use of five-year students. The building, at 2063 Adelbert Road, was named the Bolton House. Mrs. Bolton was named chairman of the building committee for construction of the dormitory for nurses at 11100 Euclid Avenue, which first opened in the fall of 1930.

Next: Election to Congress

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