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Elizabeth Soule Remembered

Soule_paintedSoule_paintedThe following profile of Elizabeth Soule was written by Dr. Cora Lawrence, who interviewed Soule while researching her 1972 doctoral dissertation on the development of the UW School of Nursing from 1912 - 1950.

"Mrs. Soule was 84 years of age when I first met her. She stood erect and slim at 5’2" with bobbed and wavy snowy white hair. Her twinkling blue eyes showed through her glasses and she met my gaze at once. I felt her warmth as a person. She spoke in a soft voice with a noticeable New England accent. She proved to be an excellent raconteur, recalling humorous events and adding tangential stories to the discussion.

"From others I learned that she was admired for her lady-like approach, her sense of humor, and her attractive figure and dress. She was known to wear the latest hats. With Dr. Suzzallo’s coaching, she used the resources of the university and her colleagues rather than seeking independence of action. Before there was a nursing major, she cooperated with the departments of home economics, education and women’s physical education to offer courses on health. She also encouraged the departments of natural and social sciences to tailor courses for pre-nursing. Mrs. Soule was always active in faculty and professional organizations and encouraged nursing faculty to do the same. "Mrs. Soule was a woman of her time, comfortable with other professional and educated persons. She began her university learning experience with Mrs. Bartlett’s public health course and for eight years carried part-time undergraduate and graduate studies along with her full-time work. In this way she shared the experiences of her students and became known as a scholar among her peers. She made a graduate degree with a thesis in nursing a prerequisite for faculty she hired. When university resources did not provide funds for travel and experimentation to pursue her educational vision, she went to the Rockefeller Foundation for a series of grants.

"Mrs. Soule was a visionary and an entrepreneur. She had faith in her ideas and waited for them to work out, keeping alert to events on campus and in nursing nationally. After Dr. Suzzallo left Washington and became head of the Carnegie Foundation in New York, she continued to seek his advice. She also frequently consulted with Annie Goodrich, dean of nursing at Yale, who first came to the University of Washington in 1922. Mrs. Soule felt isolated and formed the habit of teaming up with others to invite important visitors to the campus. She also tried to hire faculty from other universities to broaden the School’s perspective.

"Mrs. Soule’s leadership style was face-to-face. As the nursing faculty grew she fostered community, inviting them to picnics at the farm she and her husband shared on Martha Lake in Snohomish County. She continued to be actively involved throughout her retirement years, particularly with the School’s scholarship committee. Mrs. Soule felt her greatest accomplishment was the four-year nursing major which she instituted at Harborview."

CREDIT:  This life-size portrait of Elizabeth Soule hangs in the foyer of the Health Sciences Center. It was painted by Neal Ordayne with funds raised by the Nursing Alumni Association.