Physician. Guignard was born in Aiken County on October 30, 1876, the daughter of John Gabriel Guignard and Jane Bruce Salley. She spent her childhood at the family home, Evergreen, where her parents struggled to make a living from planting. The family moved near Columbia in 1895, and the move provided Jane Guignard with the opportunity to receive formal academic training. She attended the College for Women in Columbia and later received teacher training at the Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, Tennessee. Following her graduation in 1896, Guignard tutored students at home before teaching in Columbia city schools from 1897 to 1900.
After her mother’s death in 1900, Guignard’s father and brothers decided “Bruce should have her chance at medicine after all.” With their financial backing, Guignard entered the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia in 1900. She graduated in 1904. After completing a year as an intern at the Women’s Hospital, she returned to Columbia to practice medicine as one of the city’s first female physicians. In a small, rented house and office at 1313 Lady Street, Guignard’s practice grew “little by little.” She served as the attending physician at the College for Women and Columbia College, and between 1905 and 1908 she served as second assistant to Dr. Le Grande Guerry, chief surgeon at Columbia Hospital. Around 1910 Guignard moved into a larger home and practice at 1416 Hampton Street and purchased her first car to assist her with house calls to patients.
Obstetrics and pediatrics became the cornerstone of Guignard’s fifty-year medical career. “My first Columbia baby-case was a Negro child at the east end of my own street,” she recalled. “The father came for me and carried my bag, I remember, then carried it home again when the baby had arrived. I walked both ways.” After witnessing the “shockingly unsanitary and inconvenient surroundings” that accompanied the delivery of poor babies, Guignard established a small nursing home of her own in the 1920s. Supervised by Mrs. Charles Davis, and located near Guignard’s Hampton Street office, the home operated as a successful maternity hospital until Davis’s health failed in the 1930s and the venture was given up. Thereafter, Guignard became an instrumental force in the development of adequate obstetrical facilities at Columbia Hospital. She also established a training program for black midwives. During her career, she delivered more than one thousand babies in Richland County.
Guignard devoted much of her career to obstetrics, but her general practice also earned her a reputation as a doctor of the people. She looked to a patient’s environment, working conditions, emotional state, and medical and family history as important factors in health care. Her marriage of professional expertise with personal history earned her the respect of her patients and colleagues. In recognition of her service to Richland County, a portrait of Guignard was presented to Columbia Hospital in September 1940.
Guignard died of leukemia on January 11, 1963, and was buried in the graveyard of the Trinity Episcopal Church. She bequeathed Still Hopes to the Episcopal dioceses of South Carolina to establish a home for senior citizens.
Curry, Jane Guignard. “Jane Bruce Guignard, M.D.: 1876–1963.” Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association 89 (January 1993): 31–34.
Meriwether, Margaret Babcock. “Columbia’s Dr. Guignard.” Columbia State Magazine, May 25, 1952, pp. 4–5.