Dr. Esther Miriam Blanc (nee Silverstein) was born August 3, 1913 in Goshen County, Wyoming to Romanian parents, Simon and Katie (Krantz) Silverstein, who had immigrated to the United States ca. 1901. In her early years, Blanc grew up on her parents' farm in Wyoming; however, the family relocated to Scotts Bluff, Mitchell County, Nebraska between 1920-1923, where Simon located a job as a tailor for gentleman's suits. Blanc graduated from the University of California at San Francisco's School of Nursing in 1934. From 1937-1938, she served in the International Brigade Medical Corps in Spain as a front-line nurse for the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War.
Returning to California, Blanc acquired a job as a nurse for the University of California's hospital in San Francisco. She married Richard Blanc in 1941 and acted as a US Army nurse during World War II. After the war, she received a Master's in English Literature from the University of Rochester. As a clinical nurse, she was once expelled from the California Nurses Organization for union organizing. They later honored her with an award.
She again returned to school--this time for a Doctorate in the History of Health Sciences from the University of California, which she achieved in 1972 at the age of 59. Esther Silverstein Blanc died April 22, 1997 in San Francisco County, California.
Esther's early years in Wyoming and her service in Spain would provide material for several books. In 1989, she published Berchick, an award-winning children's book based on her childhood in rural Wyoming. Another award-winning children's book, Long Johns for a Small Chicken, was published posthumously in 2003. A more serious publication, Wars I Have Seen: The Play, in Three Acts with Selected Short Stories (1996), details her experiences as a nurse in wartime.
Scope and Contents: Collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, photographs, and assorted serials that document Blanc's connection with the Spanish Civil War. A highlight of the collection is the set of manuscripts for Blanc's Wars I Have Known.