Fonds PR4008 - Irene Powell fonds

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Irene Powell fonds

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    • Source of title proper: The title is based on the provenance of the fonds.

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    • 1958-2020 (Creation)

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    Physical description

    3508 photographs. – 2051 negatives. – 0.49 m of textual records. – 22 slides.

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    Biographical history

    When Irene Powell was young, she moved with her family to Youngstown, Alberta. She graduated from the Edmonton Misericordia Medical Laboratory two-year training program in 1964, and worked in that hospital mainly in the histology department until 1966. She then worked at the Hanna, Alberta hospital close to her hometown for one year, moving to Edmonton in 1967 to work at the Charles Camsell Hospital. She began work there in November 1967, several months after the new hospital was completed in July. At the time, it was a federally-run hospital treating indigenous tuberculosis (TB) patients, but it accepted other patients beginning in 1973. Powell primarily worked in the histology department at first, but went into rotation in other departments in 1972.

    The hospital paid for her to upgrade at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) so she could work in the hospital blood bank, and she graduated as a Respiratory Therapist in 1973. Powell worked for six months at this point in microbiology before returning to histology full-time, and found that the workload had changed considerably since leaving the department. Camsell was one of only two hospitals performing abortions in Edmonton at the time, and the surgical department had begun taking on the full range of procedures (prior to this, they had specialized in TB lungs, kidneys, and frostbite).

    In 1973, the hospital also became an accredited student training hospital, and Powell assisted in training students, with roughly three to four students per year in the first years, eventually increasing to seven to nine per year. After a few years, a part-time position was added in the histology department, allowing Powell to spend more time teaching students.

    At the end of 1980, administration of the Camsell Hospital was transferred to the province and it then became a city hospital.

    During her time at the hospital, Powell was the Shop Steward for the technical staff in the hospital. She also also took several evening courses in photography at NAIT, and volunteered on the hospital newsletter, the Camselletter, taking photos for the newsletter and other departments that wanted activities recorded.

    Powell described Camsell Hospital as more like a family than other hospitals of its size, and noted that it was fairly normal to have staff from various departments and teams (ex. techs, maintenance, nurses, office staff, etc.) share meals together. In addition, the hospital had a curling league and two baseball teams known as “Charlie’s Angels.” The hospital regularly had contests and other events for special occasions, such as Christmas decorating, K-Days, and Halloween.

    Powell worked at the Camsell Hospital for 28 years, until July of 1993 when she was moved to the Royal Alex Hospital. The Camsell Hospital had been taken over by the Royal Alex at this point, and at the closing of the histology department at Camsell she was the third highest in seniority of the histology techs in the city. She worked at the Royal Alex until September of 1996 when a private histology lab was set up and her role was made redundant. After leaving in September she took computer classes through Metro Continuing Education, which the hospital paid for.

    In October of 1996, Powell joined the Veterinary Pathology Lab in Edmonton to work in the histology department, and she found that her experience on farms and with large animals greatly assisted her transition to veterinary medicine. This lab was sold to another company based out of Langley, BC in the early 2000s, but still operated in Edmonton. She left the position in January of 2008, shortly before the lab in Edmonton was closed, amalgamated with two others in Langley.

    Custodial history

    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of records that document Irene Powell’s life and work, as well as her interests and time in Alberta.

    The fonds includes photograph albums and loose photos that Irene Powell took as part of her work life and as part of her hobby. These images include pictures of the staff at the Camsell hospital, and images depict K-Days celebrations, Christmas decorating and events, Halloween costumes, staff and patient photos (largely children), hospital picnics, and other hospital events. Many personal photos document the Alberta landscape, Powell’s life and events in the province. These images include barns and livestock, flora and fauna, as well as well known locales such as West Edmonton Mall, the Ukrainian Village, Heritage Days and numerous parades and local fairs.

    The fonds also includes textual records such as Camsell Hospital newsletters, with seven editions of the “Camsell Arrow” as well as various graduation booklets and hospital newsletters and annual reports from the Royal Alexandra when Powell was there.

    Notes area

    Physical condition

    Immediate source of acquisition

    The records were donated by Irene Powell to the Provincial Archives of Alberta in two accessions.


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        Language and script note

        The material is in English.

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        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Permission for use required. Subject to the Copyright Act.

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        File list is available.

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        General note

        Includes the following accessions:

        PR2018.0215, PR2022.1164

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