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If You Like Nursing History…

June 14, 2012

Pediatric NP, circa 1965

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

If you enjoy reading about nursing in the days of yore like I do, then there are a few resources I want to point out to you.

The first is Nursing History & Health Care, a Web site of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. The site was funded through several government and foundation grants and all the information is freely accessible, so this is a valuable resource. (In the interest of transparency: some years ago, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, AJN’s publisher, donated many of AJN’s historical holdings to this institution.)

Last month, we published “Key Ideas in Nursing’s First Century,” by Ellen Davison Baer, professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, and cofounder and former associate director of the university’s Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing. It’s a concise review of the early days of American nursing’s development and organization. You can also listen to the author and me discussing the article and nursing history in general in a podcast.

And I would be remiss not to mention AJN’s own archives, which go back to the very first issue in October 1900. Access to these archives does require a subscription, but if you ask me (and I freely admit I’m biased), it’s worth it to have access to the classic articles that have shaped the profession. As an example, here’s a link to Lavinia Dock’s article, “What We May Expect from the Law” (pdf; open access until June 30), which appeared in the first issue and discussed state registration laws and standards.

Another classic, which we highlight in the June issue, is “Dangers of the Menopause” (pdf; open access until June 30), originally published in September 1910. 

We’ve made these archival articles open access for the rest of the month. Enjoy the past.

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3 comments

  1. My book “Of Sluices and Sisters” Follows the trials and tribulations of a set of student nurses training at an elitist London Teaching Hospital in the 1960’s as they deal with legendary ward sisters, petty rules, challenging patients, and eccentric doctors. It includes many stories – some poignant, many very amusing – which give an insight into what nurse training was like in those days, before computers, MRIs, ultrasound, and disposable equipment.

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  2. One of my favorite oldies was I think from the 1960s ( I came across it when I was researching a paper for my pre-computer BSN degree ) it had cartoons and envisioned what nursing would be like in the future. Apparently in the future nurses still wore caps but they moved about on rolling sidewalks. Sort of Jetson-ish.

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  3. What a wonderful tribute to AJN, the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, and Nursing History in general. My own experiences working with the Barbara Bates Center have only served to emphasis the need for a collective consciousness of nursing history so that we can more accurately think through issues of labor, health-care, and gender, among others. I am excited by the prospect of future collaborations between the Center and AJN and hope that more people will come to recognize their importance and valuable dearth of information on Nursing. Be sure to check out the Center’s website and stop-by!

    http://www.nursing.upenn.edu/history/Pages/default.aspx

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