Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Ruth A. Parmelee papers
Date (bulk): 1922-1953
Collection Number: 74099
Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
Language of Material:
8 manuscript boxes, 1 envelope
(3.1 Linear Feet)
Includes diaries, notes, correspondence, reports, clippings, printed matter, and photographs relating to the life and work
of Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee. Parmelee was born and brought up in Turkey by her missionary parents. After her education in the
United States, she began a long career in establishing reliable medical service in the Near East. Working in Turkey, Greece,
and Palestine, Parmelee specialized in obstetrics, training nurses, caring for war orphans, and in refugee relief work.
Parmelee, Ruth A. (Ruth Azneve), 1885-1973
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives
The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual
or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1974.
[Identification of item], Ruth A. Parmelee papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
Ruth A. Parmelee was born in Trebizond (now called Trabzon), Turkey on April 3, 1885. She studied with her missionary parents,
Dr. and Mrs. M. P. Parmelee, until the family returned to the United States when she was eleven years old. Parmelee received
her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1907 and her M.D. from the University of Illinois in 1912. She completed her internship at
Philadelphia Women's Hospital.
Dr. Parmelee sailed for Turkey in May 1914 and was the first woman physician to settle in the Euphrates Valley. She set up
a medical practice in Harpoot, specializing in obstetrics, care of war orphans, and training nurses. She continued this work
until 1917, then resumed the same post from 1919 to 1922. In October of 1922, she moved to Thessaloniki, Greece, where she
worked under the American Women's Hospitals (AWH) organization, and with their support opened a hospital and the first school
of nursing in Greece. From 1925 to 1933, Dr. Parmelee was appointed Director of the AWH Grecian Area. During this period,
she directed the hospital in Kokkinia and continued to run the school of nursing, which moved with her from Thessaloniki.
At Kokkinia, Dr. Parmelee was assisted by Emilie Willms, R.N.
After a period of sick leave in the United States, Dr. Parmelee returned to Greece. From 1935 to 1941, she settled in Athens
and worked with several institutions as an advisor, council member, or director, including: Athens Municipal Hospital, Kokkinia
Hospital, Council for a Nursing School for Public Health, Patriotic Foundation of Social Welfare and Prevention (PIKPA) School
of Nursing, Archbishop's Committee for Relief of Bombarded Families, Seventh Military Hospital, AWH Civilian Relief Center,
and the Greek War Relief Committee.
In 1941, Dr. Parmelee left Greece due to the German occupation. She returned to the United States and studied at Harvard University
from 1942 to 1943, where she earned the degree of Master of Public Health. In September of 1943, the Near East Foundation
sent Parmelee with a relief group to the aid of Greek refugees at Camp Nuseirat, near Gaza in Palestine. As Senior Medical
Officer, she was responsible for 8000 escapees from the German occupation. The refugees came from the island of Samos, the
Dodecanese Islands, and mainland Greece. In the autumn of 1945, Dr. Parmelee was appointed to serve as the United Nations
Relief and Rehabilitation Administration's (UNRRA) Regional Medical Officer in the Cyclades Islands. From 1946 to 1947, Parmelee
returned to Athens, where she acted as Medical Advisor and Director of the Near East Foundation's School of Physical Therapy.
After a leave of absence spent in the United States, Dr. Parmelee returned again to Greece in 1948. She served Pierce College
in Elleniko (near Athens) until 1953, teaching hygiene, community health, and medical information for social workers. She
then returned to the United States, and died in 1973.
In recognition of her service, Dr. Parmelee received several awards. She was appointed by King Paul of Greece as Commander
of the the Royal Order of Efpiia in 1953, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Oberlin College in 1943, was
awarded the Silver Cross of the Chevalier of the Order of the Savior by King George II of Greece, and was given a citation
for outstanding and meritorious service in 1945 by General Sir Bernard Paget, British Commander of the Middle East Forces.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Ruth A. Parmelee papers include diaries, notes, correspondence, reports, clippings, printed matter, and photographs relating
to the life and work of Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee. Parmelee was born and brought up in Turkey by her missionary parents. After
her education in the United States, she began a long career in establishing reliable medical service in the Near East. Working
in Turkey, Greece, and Palestine, Parmelee specialized in obstetrics, training nurses, caring for war orphans, and in refugee
The collection consists of four series, each of which presents a different aspect of Dr. Parmelee's achievements. The
Correspondence series contains letters with family and friends, and provides a personal narrative account of setting up Parmelee's medical
practice, caring for refugees, and establishing nursing schools and hospitals. Typescripts and handwritten notes in the
Diaries series record Parmelee's daily routine, though the level of detail varies greatly from day to day. The
Work Files series comprises the bulk of the collection and provides an official account of Parmelee's work. Through reports and correspondence,
this series documents Parmelee's role in establishing nursing schools, promoting access to quality medical care among the
poor, and caring for refugees. It also reflects her efforts on behalf of several relief organizations, including the American
Women's Hospital, the Near East Foundation, and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Finally, the
Photographs series illustrates Dr. Parmelee's travels, the cities and landscape where she lived, and her work in the camps, hospitals,
and nursing schools.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
World War, 1914-1918 -- Civilian relief
World War, 1914-1918 -- Medical care
World War, 1939-1945 -- Civilian relief
World War, 1939-1945 -- Medical care
World War, 1914-1918 -- Turkey
World War, 1939-1945 -- Greece
World War, 1939-1945 -- Middle East
Greco-Turkish War, 1921-1922 -- Medical care
Nursing -- Greece
Near East Relief (Organization)
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
American Women's Hospitals
Near East Foundation