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Finding Aid to Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center Records, 1887-2006 (bulk 1910 - 1980)
BANC MSS 2010/616  
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center Records
    Date: 1887-2006
    Date (bulk): 1910 - 1980
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 2010/616
    Extent: 155 boxes, 45 oversize boxes, 7 volumes, 6 cardfile boxes, 1 oversize folder (84 linear feet)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English

    Information for Researchers


    RESTRICTIONS: A small amount of material has been restricted, due to possibly sensitive materials. Box 50, folders 1-10, are closed to research until JANUARY 1, 2029. Box 50, folder 11, is closed to research until JANUARY 1, 2032.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center records, BANC MSS 2010/616, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Biography/Organization History


    The Mount Zion Hospital records were donated by the hospital in 1992 and additional materials were received in early 2000. Processing was done by at least two archivists over a period of years and was completed in 2000 by Julia Bazar with the assistance of Eda Regan and Eileen Adams. Intern Laura Hollander assisted with the photographs.


    Mount Zion Hospital Association was founded in 1887 "for the purpose of aiding the indigent sick without regard to race or creed, to be supported by the Jewish community." It opened its first hospital ten years later in 1897 and functioned as a private non-profit institution until its merger with UCSF in 1992. A subsequent merger of UCSF with Stanford Hospital was dissolved in 1999. During this period Mount Zion was more fully integrated into UCSF, closed its Emergency Room and ceased being a Jewish hospital.
    The Mount Zion Hospital Association was formed by a group of 43 prominent members of the San Francisco Jewish community on November 3, 1887 at the home of Frederick and Charlotte Castle. On November 5th the first Articles of Incorporation were adopted and on November 9th Board of Directors were chosen with Frederick Levy Castle as the first President of the Board serving until 1893. (Mrs. Castle was appointed Honorary President of the Ladies' Guild after its formation in 1897). The constitution and by-laws were approved at a meeting of the patrons and members of the association in December 1888. Over the next nine years funds were sought to enable the building of a hospital. Donations came from local residents, New York and Europe, but went slowly since the community was divided on the need for a specifically Jewish hospital and on whether such a hospital should then serve only Jewish patients.
    The first hospital opened in 1897 at Hyde and Sutter in a building that had been offered with a free year's rent by Dr. Julius Rosenstirn who served as Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery. A Polyclinic (or outpatient service) was opened at 317 Stockton and operated from 1897-1899. The clinic opened and closed several times before the opening of the Gunst Clinic in 1916 established a permanent outpatient department. The Mount Zion Training School for Nurses was formed in 1897 to provide trained nurses for the hospital.
    In 1899 the hospital moved to 2311 Sutter between Scott and Divisadero. This neighborhood would become the hospital's permanent home. With subsequent expansions, it eventually acquired the whole block. This building survived the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, though it was briefly evacuated due to fire. However, the building was already inadequate for the increasing patient load and the need to provide outpatient services. The Hellman building named by I.W. Hellman in memory of his wife Esther (he had donated $100,000 of the $250,000 capital campaign), opened February 7, 1914 and was billed as "the most modern hospital in San Francisco." Services continued to expand with the opening of the above mentioned Gunst Clinic, the institution of the Social Services Department, an increased patient census, and the inauguration of home care by visiting physicians and nurses.
    Both World War I and World War II saw large numbers of Mount Zion doctors and nurses enlisting in military service, increased labor and supply costs, and other labor issues. The end of World War I brought the influenza epidemic which severely taxed both staff and facility. 1916 through the 1920s were a major time of growth and transition, and struggles with rampant inflation. It was also the beginning of specialization in medicine and the solidification of new departments (child welfare clinic, outpatient department, mental hygiene department -- predecessor to the psychiatric department -- and the chest department). The 1930s saw the establishment of Mount Zion as a teaching hospital and community hospital, with a three year nursing program and increased places for interns. The Harold Brun Cardio-Vascular Research Center was established in 1939 and this trend towards research increased tremendously after the Second World War.
    The end of the war again found Mount Zion outgrowing its space with all projections showing continually increasing need. The Hospital had begun acquiring property in 1944 but was unable to begin fundraising until 1947. Construction began in 1948, but unanticipated costs caused delays. The new four story building opened in December 1950, but due to nursing and support staff shortages it was not fully functional. The building was designed for expansion and a 5th and 6th floor were slowly completed over the decade.
    Mount Zion Hospital celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1962 with various commemorative events, including a capital campaign drive. That year, the Nursing School, which had incorporated independently as the Mount Zion School of Nursing in 1942, graduated its last class. 1963 saw the opening of the new outpatient building which contained the Claire Zellerbach Saroni Tumor Institute and the Department of Psychiatry.
    From 1952 to 1971 Mount Zion had been guided by a strong Administrator, Mark Berke, who worked well with all levels of staff and oversaw the increasing administrative requirements of departments, the burgeoning of government control and the proliferation of paperwork. His death in 1971 left a vacuum. His replacement, Jay Okun Yedvab (1971-1975), faced labor disputes, fiscal problems and the national malpractice crisis during his tenure, though he also oversaw the needed restructuring of several departments and expansions in oncology, pediatrics, and medicine. In 1975 William Gurtner, a Berke protégé took over as Administrator. In his decade of service he oversaw a redefinition of focus with cutbacks in training programs and some services. He also oversaw Mount Zion's first formal affiliations with UCSF and various cooperative agreements with other San Francisco hospitals in an attempt to stay competitive in the changing medical world. Medicare, HMOs, increasing costs and new technologies challenged Mount Zion through the 1970s and 1980s. Gurtner's successor Martin Diamond oversaw the final attempt to save Mount Zion Hospital through a merger with the University of California. The UCSF-Mount Zion merger was approved in 1989 with a three year phase in to be completed during the 1992 fiscal year.

    The Ladies Auxiliary

    The Mount Zion Ladies Auxiliary was founded in 1897 with the opening of the first hospital. Later called the Women’s Auxiliary, it dropped the gender designation from its name in the 1970s in order to welcome men into its ranks. The auxiliary at first provided linens, ran the hospital kitchen, and provided other valuable services. Eventually the women’s organizing power was recognized: the president of the auxiliary became a voting member of the Board of Directors and auxiliary members were appointed to board committees. Over the years the auxiliary took on a number of different tasks including responsibility for major fundraising campaigns, the training and provision of volunteers in a number of capacities including patient and family services. The auxiliary, at times, ran a gift shop, a coffee shop, and a travel desk.

    Scope and Content Note

    This collection contains minutes, bylaws, correspondence, departmental records, reports, financial records, publications, photographs, slides, audio tapes, books and memorabilia covering Mount Zion Hospital Association and successor institutions from its formation in 1887 up to its merger with the University of California San Francisco in 1992. Except for a few ledgers from the 1910s and 1920s (and a Radiology ledger from the 1940s) this collection does not contain patient records. For more information on Mount Zion, see also the extensive files in the collection of former board president, Rhoda Goldman.
    Except for Minutes and Annual Reports which are close to complete, the majority of the materials consist of scattered files from a variety of departments, organizations and offices. Besides Minutes, Bylaws and Annual Reports other series or sub-series with earlier material include: Financial Records (scattered), Building and Planning (Hellman Building 1908-1917, and 1940s), Auxiliary (minutes from 1930-1990, some 1950s), Medical Staff (some 1950s), Departments (patient ledgers 1914-1925, 1930s and 1950s), Nursing School (1907-1962), Public Affairs (some clippings 1932-1959), Publications and Pamphlets (some 1950s), and Archives Committee and Objects (scattered items).
    Besides documenting the development of a Jewish organization this collection also provides insight into changes in hospital administration, fundraising and philanthropic practices, the development of psychiatry and other medical fields, and other social and historical topics.
    Of special interest are the few patient ledgers, materials pertaining to the merger with UCSF, documents showing the evolution of medical care and hospital organization (including the emergence of HMO's, labor disputes, malpractice), and meditations on the meaning of the specifically Jewish nature of Mount Zion. Also included are oral histories with members of the Mount Zion community, publicity and other photographs, and extensive clipping files.
    The collection is divided into 4 major series:
    • Series 1: Board of Directors Records
    • Series 2: Administration and Financial Records
    • Series 3: Programs and Services Records
    • Series 4: Pamphlets, Public Affairs, Publications, Photos
    These series are divided into sub-series. Arrangement of material depends on the series or sub-series and include both chronological, alphabetical and hierarchical schemes. Some material remains in reverse chronological order.
    The major sub-series are:
    • Series 1: Board of Directors Records - Minutes; Bylaws; Annual Reports; General Board Files
    • Series 2:Administration and Financial Records - Administration/Operations; Joint Planning/Mergers; Health Systems, Inc.; Financial; Building/Planning
    • Series 3: Programs and Services Records - General; Archives Committee; Auxiliary; Medical Staff; Nursing School
    • Series 4: Pamphlets, Public Affairs, Publications, Photos - Pamphlets and Informational Handouts; Public Affairs Department; Publications; Photographs