Call for Manuscripts!  Subsection: “Hidden in Plain Sight”
NHR 2020-21

We are seeking manuscript submissions for a new section of Nursing History Review highlighting nurses from under-represented groups (e.g.: diverse racial and ethnic groups from the global community), men and women from religious communities, and nurses from LGBTQ communities. Manuscripts may cover material from any time period in history.

Given the often-scarce primary sources available for study of these under-represented nurses, the manuscripts can be shorter than usual: from 5-20 pages (Double spaced, Chicago Style 16th edition, 12 pt.) Photographs may be included. In the cover letter for submission, authors should note that the manuscript should be considered for the section: “Hidden in Plain Sight.” Manuscripts should be submitted by November 1, 2019 to [email protected].

Arlene Keeling PhD, RN, FAAN
Editor, NHR


AAHN Position Statement on Immigrants and Asylum Seekers

As you will see in the statement below, the American Association for the History of Nursing has recently issued a position statement about the conditions in the immigration detention centers at the U.S. border. As a member of that association, I hope that you will share this statement widely in the House and Senate, and urge you to act quickly to resolve this crisis. Nurses have long been active in addressing health issues in the setting of a humanitarian crisis and we urge you to place nurses and physicians in these centers as soon as possible.

As historians of nursing and healthcare, we advocate compassionate care for all refugees seeking asylum in the United States, and all immigrants searching for a better life in America. Nurses have a long history of providing care for all without concern for race, gender, ethnicity, religion or political party. Those principles should be applied now. The situation at the southern border of the United States—a country dedicated to “liberty and justice for all” -- is a humanitarian crisis demanding a competent and compassionate response. It could also turn into a public health crisis. The AAHN adamantly opposes the conditions of the government facilities in which children are being kept without access to proper food, clothing, fresh air, and basic hygiene products -- in some instances separated from their biological parents or denied travel to relatives in the United States.  We call on the U.S. government to send more nurses and qualified healthcare providers to the border to address this crisis. Nurses have brought order out of chaos in the past and can do so again.

If you would like to support our efforts to send this to all of the Senators and Representatives, please click on the links below and then email the position statement. We have also attached a copy for your convenience.

A Message from the President

Arlene W. Keeling, PhD, RN, FAAN

A Message from the AAHN President
October 2019

Nurses and Climate Migration: Revisiting the ‘Dust Bowl’ History

As I write this, it is 97 degrees outside – in Virginia – in October!  Our usual high for this day would be maybe 80 degrees. Most of us cannot even believe it is October!  That and the recent school strikes led by Greta Thunberg, the young activist from Sweden, have turned my attention to nursing’s history in responding to victims of climate disasters. And, as Dr. Wall and I note in our books, Nurses on the Frontlines and Nursing and Disasters (Springer Publishing), and I write about in Nursing Rural America, the instances are many. Today though, I address one in particular as it has to do with “climate migration” – a particular problem that the world will increasingly face in the future as devastation from natural disasters causes millions of people to relocate to survive.1

Such was the case in the 1930s, when a prolonged and serious drought in America’s midsection, intersecting with the collapse of the U.S. economy and overly aggressive plowing of thousands of acres of prairie, led to uninhabitable conditions in the “Dust Bowl” (sections of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico).  There, the devastating drought and subsequent dust storms choked farms with black sand. Without income from their crops, farmers were unable to pay their mortgages, and were eventually evicted from their homes. Moreover, dust was choking their families as well as the crops.

As a result, more than 250,000 farmers and their families left the plains states and migrated to the west coast to harvest fruits and vegetables. Traveling in battered jalopies packed with tents, bedding, and household items, the families headed to California in search of farmwork.

Photo Credits "Library of Congress"

Arriving in the towns of California’s Imperial and San Joaquin Valleys, the migrants concentrated in appalling numbers, only to discover that work was scarce, pay was little, and living conditions in the squatter camps horrid. Homeless, the migrants lived in rickety cabins owned by their employers or in makeshift “squatter camps” hastily erected along irrigation ditches close to the fields. Without indoor plumbing, families used ditch water for bathing, drinking and toileting. Inevitably dysentery, diarrhea, and other diseases broke out. Tuberculosis was endemic. Other prevalent diseases included conjunctivitis, colds, whooping cough, strep throat, scarlet fever, mumps, and measles.2

Soon Californians saw the filthy tent cities and the Dust Bowl refugees with their “grimy, coughing children” as menaces to their own health. Local citizens soon turned against the itinerants, closing doors to access to medical care, education and housing. Under pressure from local citizens, the State Department of Health was asked to intervene --the migrants had no money for medical care. However, the displaced migrant families were not considered residents in their states of destination, and therefore did not qualify for state relief. As a result, the states soon sought help from the federal government. In response, the federally funded Agriculture Workers Health and Medical Association set up clinics near the ditch camps and employed local public health nurses and part-time physicians to care for the migrants. Traveling from one camp after another, PH nurses made home visits to the makeshift shacks, caring for the sick and teaching prenatal and well-baby care, hygiene, proper diet, and disease prevention. In doing so, nurses had to use what the family had, in some cases teaching young mothers to prepare baby formula using a “saucepan, an empty flask and a tin spoon” or how to make a baby bed from an “orange crate and an old quilt.”4

I could go on, but you can also read some of the sources below, as this is supposed to be an editorial, not a complete article. The “Dust Bowl” history is complicated by issues of race, class, and who is considered “worthy” of help.  Revisiting it today (perhaps in your classes?) we can see the problems created not only by the climate migration itself, but also by peoples’ reactions to the newcomers.  It becomes a familiar story:  fear of “others” bringing disease, and “others” taking jobs (in this case from Chinese, Japanese and Mexican laborers who were working the fields in California). It also involves fear of “others” changing the nature of communities with their “different” culture – different that is from the perspective of those who long took for granted the privileges of belonging.

Once again, history can inform the present.

If you would like to comment on this piece, you can reach me at [email protected].

Arlene W. Keeling PhD, RN, FAAN

1 Arlene Keeling, Chapter 7 in John Kirchgessner and Arlene Keeling, Nursing Rural America, (New York: Springer Publishing 2015)
2 Michael Grey, “Dustbowls, Disease, and the New Deal: The Farm Security Administration Migrant Health Programs, 1935-1947,” The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied SciencesInc.  48 (1993): 3-39. See also Mary Sears, “The Nurse and the Migrant,” The Pacific Coast Journal of Nursing 37, 3 (March 1941): 144-46.
3 A. Keeling, Chapter 7, p. 105
4  Anita Faverman, Edna Rockstroh, Freda Whyte and Laura Bolt, “Trailing Child and Maternal Health into California Migratory Agricultural Camps,” Report of the Second Year of the Migratory Demonstration: Nurses’ Report, (July 1937-June 1938): 28-37 (quote p. 36), Hollenberg Collection, Bancroft Library, Berkley.




2018 Pre-Doctoral Grant Update Laurel Sanders


 In 1924, the United States Office of Indian Affairs began employing public health or “field” nurses in Native American communities around the country to provide federally recognized tribes with health education and preventative medicine. As federal authorities intended, these nurses monitored Native people’s health in their homes, visiting to persuade tubercular patients to enter institutions and extolling the value of hospital birth to expectant mothers. Historians such as Margaret Jacobs, Cathleen Cahill, and Jane Simonsen have found that female employees were integral to federal Indian policies, including the policy of forced assimilation, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This conclusion holds true for the work of field nurses, but their experiences also provide a window to the healthcare choices made by Native patients, families, and communities. Through my dissertation research, conducted with the assistance of the AAHN, I am seeking to understand expressions of self determination in health in interactions between Native communities and government field nurses. Health sovereignty is an ongoing issue for many indigenous communities, and this research can show how Native people exercised that sovereignty, or attempted to, during a period of widespread illness and poverty. By the early 1930s, most field nurses were sending monthly narrative and statistical reports to their supervisors. These reports provide vivid descriptions of nurses’ everyday lives, from the regular logistical struggle of conducting home visits in remote areas to accounts of conversations, and often conflicts, with community members. Field nurses were representatives of the settler state, a state that, among other things, routinely removed children from their families into boarding schools founded on the goal of destroying indigenous cultures. Native people’s resistance to the advice of field nurses was often clearly grounded in experience with such policies. However, field nurses’ reports also reveal the complexity of interactions with patients and communities, particularly in the cases of the few nurses who were Native themselves. Native patients and nurses both contested and exchanged knowledge about health. In addition to these revealing narratives, nurses provided monthly statistical reports. Two pages of statistics denote the scale of health issues on reservations and the division of nurses’ time. The reports describe attendance at classes, clinics, and the nurse’s office and explain who reported new cases. This information can show how Native people used nurses’ services, and, in combination with other sources, why they did so. I am currently holding a summer fellowship at the University of Iowa’s Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, and my work consists of building a dataset from those statistical field nurse reports, analyzing the information, and creating data visualizations to express the patterns that these records reveal. I am grateful to have had the time to collect a significant amount of this statistical data from archival sources. Field nurses’ monthly reports are a rich source for understanding their work and Native communities’ reactions to it. The National Archives at Washington, DC houses an extensive series of these reports from all over the country, through the years 1931-1943. The support of the AAHN Pre-Doctoral Grant allowed me to make a lengthy visit to Washington and study the entirety of the series, providing an understanding of changes and continuity in the field nurse program through shifts in federal policy, leadership, and global events. I deeply appreciate the assistance of the AAHN and the organization’s commitment to this and other research that can illuminate the origins of modern health disparities.

 Tori Tucker H-31 Follow -up


I joined the inpatient Thomas Palliative Care unit at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014 under our then manager Dr. Clareen Wiencek. Prior to my arrival, my experience on a cardiac intermediate unit attuned me to the evidence of suffering, barriers to providing holistic care, and the desire to bear witness to the human experience both as a clinician and a person. My transition to palliative care changed my nursing practice and continues to impact my personal and professional relationships in unsurmountable ways. The palliative care unit is a sacred place where both life and death are cherished, and where beginnings and ends have permission to meet. My palliative care colleagues collectively teach me valuable lessons on the power of being present with patients, their loved ones, and the art of making space for legacies to be captured. I entered the PhD Program in Fall 2015, unaware that my palliative care dissertation focus would evolve, later taking me to the mountains of Franklin Country, Virginia and pursuing a historical dissertation. Historical Inquiry in Nursing, taught by Dr. Arlene Keeling, was one of my first doctoral courses. I initially wrestled with a final history paper topic, but this changed when a former advisor asked a critical question: “Who was the first Black nurse to graduate from University of Virginia’s School of Nursing (SON) Program?” My answer was incomplete, I could see the first Black nurse in my mind, yet I had no full name or understanding of her narrative. I asked myself, ‘How did I lose her name? Who else have I lost?’ I felt a deep unsettling and longing to know more about the Black nurses who paved the way for my entry into the profession. I started locally, investigating the desegregation of our own University of Virginia’s SON for my final course paper. My investigation led me to Ms. Mavis Claytor, BSN ’70, MSN ’85, the first Black student admitted to and graduated from UVA's School of Nursing program. There were two essential leads that directed me to Ms. Claytor. The first lead was Dr. Barbara Brodie, through Mr. Jefferson’s Nurses: University of Virginia School of Nursing 1901-2001. The second lead was through Karol Kozak (School of Nursing Alumni Association). I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Claytor in her hometown (Franklin County, Virginia) for my final history paper, an experience that has continued to change my life. Following my first completed year in the doctoral program, I decided to pursue nursing history as my dissertation focus in 2016. My dissertation focuses on Black nurses and nursing students experiences in Virginia, 1950s-1980s and utilizes oral histories to address fragmented archives. The 2018-2019 H 31 Pre-Doctoral Grant supported my participation in the American Association for the History of Nursing, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and in the Center for Race and Public Education in the South. Participation in the respective organizations supported the dissemination of preliminary findings through presentations, networking, and workshopping ideas. On January 25, 2019, I co-moderated and presented at the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, UVA Health System Program: Women in the Movement. I presented my research, as an invited community speaker, at Zion Hill Baptist Church (Keswick, Virginia) for their Black History Month Program on February 10, 2019. I am currently an oral historian and research planning member on the Jefferson Trust Funded project Reshaping Public and Archival Space, an interdisciplinary research project through the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry. My research is personal and builds on my practice of memory making and legacy work as a Palliative Care nurse. My faculty advisor, Dr. Barbra Mann Wall, is cultivating my intellectual skills in archival research and advanced historical methods. Through my dissertation research, I strive to enhance the archival representation of nurse contributors by continuing to add Black nurses’ narratives to archival records. Additionally, I remain committed to disseminating findings through accessible and unconventional mediums. There are many narratives that remain untold, I aspire to carve out ongoing space to listen and acknowledge the experiences of others. My dissertation is just a piece of the work I hope to complete in my lifetime.


AAHN 2018 H-15 GRANT RESEARCH SUMMARY by April Matthias

Early 20th Century Correspondence Courses in Nursing: Questionable or Quality Education The Chautauqua School of Nursing, an early 20th century nursing correspondence course in Jamestown, New York, was incorporated in 1902, and enrolled tens of thousands of students until its dissolution in 1936. Students graduated as a “Chautauqua nurse” after successful completion of two courses that included nearly 50 lectures, studying instructions, case studies, examinations, and guidelines for supplemental, yet not required, practical experience. The course materials were incrementally mailed to students and, if as anticipated, one lesson was completed each week, the length of study was approximately one year. The cost of the program was about $100.00 dependent upon the chosen payment plan. Chautauqua was established when there were inconsistencies in the preparation of nurses across hospital training schools. The inconsistencies were found in admission requirements, length of training, patient case variety, theoretical instruction, and supervision of practical training; however, hospital training schools provided the practical training that Chautauqua did not require. This absence of required, nurse-supervised practical training was the issue that rendered the strongest opposition to Chautauqua by organized nursing in New York. Conflict between organized nursing and Chautauqua continued throughout the school’s tenure. A philosophical difference was also at issue; the founders of Chautauqua viewed nursing as a domestic and vocational skill for women, while, at the same time, organized nursing was working to standardize training, protect the title ‘nurse’, and professionalize nursing practice via registration. Correspondence courses have consequently received negative or no mention in the nursing history narrative. In the 21st century, however, the Chautauqua School of Nursing has been reviewed more positively for its innovative approach to educate nurses; still lacking is an AAHN 2018 H-15 GRANT RESEARCH SUMMARY 3 evaluation of its educational quality. My research examines whether the Chautauqua School of Nursing offered a quality, theoretical foundation for nursing practice in the early 20th century. The course content, pedagogical approach, and assessments are being analyzed, as well as the reasons students enrolled, and their work post-graduation as “Chautauqua Nurses.” The American Association for the History of Nursing H-15 grant advanced this study through financial support for on-site archival research. Primary sources, including course materials and examinations, correspondence, advertisements, published testimonies, and memorandums were used from the Archives of the Foundation of the New York State Nurses Association, Bellevue Alumnae Center for Nursing History in Guilderland, NY; the New York State Archives in Albany NY; the Fenton Historical Society in Jamestown, NY; and the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, PA. Preliminary analysis reveals curricular strengths within the correspondence course. The presentation of relevant medicine and nursing content, illustrations, photographs, and case study enhancements provided students appropriate resources for learning. Robustness of the lessons both in length and content within the anticipated 1-week timeline of completion, coupled with the student’s isolation studying alone at home, required a disciplined, driven student with strong reading and writing skills. Student learning was assessed through non-proctored tests which required written responses. Tests were evaluated by hand and corrected content was returned to students to redirect student learning. Although not required, practical experience, to include hands-on practice with friends and family, as well as physician-supervised care of patients, was strongly recommended. The Chautauqua School of Nursing assisted students in securing work with physicians through letters of support describing the course and student’s progress. AAHN 2018 H-15 GRANT RESEARCH SUMMARY 4 Published testimonies illustrate that students enrolled in Chautauqua to better care for family, to seek employment as a nurse, or supplement their hospital training school preparation. Testimonies further reveal that students lived in many states and several countries with variety in age, gender, marital status, responsibility of dependents, physical health, religious affiliation, and proximity to a hospital training school for nurses. The Chautauqua School of Nursing reached a broad population of students who were unable to enroll in a hospital training school. Graduates reported satisfaction with the course, and the ability to obtain work as a nurse in diverse settings and geographical areas. The Chautauqua School of Nursing curriculum provided the proactive, motivated student a quality, theoretical foundation for nursing practice in the early 20th century. Requiring supervised care of patients would have enhanced the course by ensuring that each graduate received practical training. The quality elements of Chautauqua’s curriculum hold value even in the absence of nurse-supervised practical training. It is expected that continued analysis will yield a descriptive narrative to earn Chautauqua a place in nursing education’s history




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The Benefits of Membership

History provides current nurses with the same intellectual and political tools that determined nursing pioneers applied to shape nursing values and beliefs to the social context of their times. Nursing history is not an ornament to be displayed on anniversary days, nor does it consist of only happy stories to be recalled and retold on special occasions. Nursing history is a vivid testimony, meant to incite, instruct and inspire today's nurses as they bravely tread the winding path of a reinvented health care system.

To find out about these nursing pioneers and their efforts, join the American Association for the History of Nursing.

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Thank You to Our 2019 Conference Sponsors! 

Thank you to all who helped make the AAHN 36th Annual Conference a success and a huge thank you to our sponsors!

Click here for photos from the 2019 Conference.






We look forward to the 2020 Conference in Chester, England.
September  10-12, 2020
Click here for more information.


            BREAKING NEWS             

The American Association for the History of Nursing is proud to support The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Recognition Act in honor of the thousands of Cadet Nurses who studied and served under the U.S. Cadet Corps program in World War II.

About Friends of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps World War II

This group was formed to pass the 2018 bipartisan legislation, "U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act." It was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as HR7258 and in the U.S. Senate as Senate Bill 3729.  There is no financial or VA benefits. These women of the Greatest Generation only request to be honored as Veterans of WWII with an American flag and a gravesite plaque forever marking their proud service to our country during wartime in the United States Cadet Nurse Corps.  

Action Needed:  Be a  "Friend" of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps WWII.  
How:  Simply let your U.S. Senators and House Representatives know that passing this new bill is important to you by going to their website and clicking on the button.