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Ruth Carney Parmenter
School of Nursing

Ruth Carney Parmenter, A.B., R.N., Associate Professor of Nursing and Assistant Director, Nursing Service, Outpatient Department

Diploma, Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing and Hygiene, Detroit, Michigan, 1933; A.B., University of Michigan, 1935.

Public health nurse, Detroit, Michigan, 1940; United States Army, 1945 (April to December); Instructor in Nursing, University of Michigan School of Nursing, September 16, 1946-1952; Assistant Professor of Nursing, ibid., and Supervisor of Outpatient Department, University of Michigan Hospital, 1952-1960; Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Michigan School of Nursing, and Assistant Director, Nursing Service, Outpatient Department, University of Michigan Hospital, 1960-1972; Associate Professor Emeritus of Nursing, 1972.

Ruth Carney’s father, Richard G. Carney, a real estate agent in Bay City, Michigan, died in 1912 at the age of 54, leaving his wife, Anna Louise Rhodes Carney, a widow at the age of 36. Ruth Carney, who was four years old when her father died, graduated from Bay City Central High School in 1926, where she was treasurer of the Agathos Chapter of the National Honor Society for Secondary Schools, president of the Ecclessia Literary Society, and a cast member in the senior play. She was admitted to the University of Michigan, and she and her mother took lodgings on Wilmot Street in Ann Arbor. Carney appears in the 1930 Michiganensian as a senior with an A.B., but the bachelor of arts degree was not bestowed until 1935. Nursing school intervened, a career choice perhaps influenced by the Depression. Carney entered Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing in September 1930. She was the financial officer for the nursing school student association, which reported in the 1932 yearbook, Sonah, as follows: “Especial mention should be made of the treasury report this year. The 1931 Association record is the only report that shows 99.8% collection of dues. This result is credited to the determined efforts of the treasurer.” Ruth Carney graduated from Henry Ford in 1933.

As part of her early work at the University of Michigan, Carney conducted Well Baby Clinics, a joint project of the Pediatrics Department and the Ann Arbor Public Health Nursing Association. The clinics focused on normal growth and development; child nutrition; immunization against “diphtheria, whooping cough, lockjaw and smallpox;” and early detection of defects or disease. The Detroit Free Press wrote about the little-known clinics in a Sunday edition of the paper in January 1950. In November 1955 the Detroit Free Press featured a story about a survey of 434 new mothers by Mrs. Ruth Parmenter, assistant professor of nursing, and Bruce Graham, associate professor of pediatrics. Of interest was that the number of women who preferred to breast-feed their infants exceeded the number who preferred to bottle-feed them, 284 to 150. Another write-up, in February 1956 by the Lansing State Journal, announced the news this way: “Today’s Mother Is Spurning Use of Baby Bottle.”

Ruth Carney was married to Ottie Albert Parmenter, more than twenty years her senior, about 1955. He died in Ann Arbor in 1957 at age 70. Ruth Carney Parmenter, born in June 1908, died February 8, 1974 in Ann Arbor at age 65.