Oral Histories

Interview of Bertha B. Unger

Director of nursing at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital: Bertha B. Unger
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Biographical Note:
Director of nursing at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.
Balter, Michael S.
Unger, Bertha B.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
2.9 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series was made possible by support from the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital and documents the history of that institution.
Childhood and family background; religious discipline; education; community life in rural New York; decision to enter nursing; training at Middletown State Hospital; mother's death; life in New York City in the 1930s; working in an epileptic ward; meeting and dating Max Unger; position on the children's unit at the New York State Psychiatric Institute; psychiatric care in the 1930s; patients; marriage to Unger; World War II; moving to New Orleans; life in the South; leaving nursing after marriage; return to nursing in 1953; the neurology service at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center; completing education at Teachers College, Columbia University; teaching neurological nursing at Columbia; move to Los Angeles in 1961; offered position as supervisor of the children's service at the Neuro-psychiatric Institute (NPI); Ruth White; faculty in the children's service; the nursing staff at NPI; Unger's philosophy of supervising; debates over dress policies for NPI nurses; the argument over psychiatric nurses wearing street clothes; training nurses to care for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities; behavior modification techniques for autistic patients; levels of staffing and equipment; career development policies; reorganizing the nursing staff into clinical specialists; mass resignation of NPI nursing staff in April 1967 to protest reductions in the California Department of Mental Hygiene's budget; the California Nurses Association; strategies for coping with understaffing; the clinical ladder concept; Unger promoted to director of nursing in 1968; Philip R. A. May; Norman Q. Brill's resignation as director of NPI; Henry H. Work and George Tarjan; Louis Jolyon West; retirement in 1987.