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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 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.

A Message from the President

Arlene W. Keeling, PhD, RN, FAAN

A Message from the AAHN President
July 2019

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  (The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)

As July 4th approaches, I have to say I am struggling to write this message. Does the United States still uphold these truths?  I’ve just finished reading Charles M. Blow’s opinion column in the New York Times and another by Riane Rolden in the Texas Tribune, describing the appalling conditions in the immigration detention camps. Babies, separated from family caregivers, have no diapers; fourteen-year-old children are caring for toddlers. And, according to the reports, there are no cribs or beds, no clean clothes, no toothbrushes, and no soap.1  Moreover six migrant children have died in U.S. custody.2 I am overwhelmed with a desire to DO something concrete to help these children instead of writing a column. In fact, I was ready to suggest that all AAHN members bring toothbrushes, soap, and diapers to our annual meeting so that we could “do something” as an Association, only to find out that Border agents will not accept these items, that the camps are all five to eight hours away from Dallas by car (making delivery of the items quite difficult), and just within the 24 hours (of this writing), the children have been moved from the facility. I have no doubt, however, that terrible conditions in the immigrant detention centers persist, and epidemics will follow. (A recent flu outbreak at the McAllan, Texas, facility sent five infants to the NICU, and a physician who visited described conditions as “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.”)3

I would have preferred to write that this type of treatment would never have happened in our nation’s past, but yes, our government has a history of detaining those whom it fears. For example, during World War II, the U.S. government interred Japanese American citizens in eleven camps throughout the country. Nonetheless, the contrast between the care provided in the Japanese Internment camps and that provided in the immigrant detention centers today is striking. However, appalling as it was that the government interred Japanese American citizens, one thing can be said: the government kept families together and provided basic shelter, hospitals, nurseries, and food. It also recruited Japanese American physicians, nurses, and aides to help government employed physicians and nurses care for the children.4

Analyzing historic government photographs depicting conditions in these camps certainly poses challenges: how much of this documentation was government propaganda? How much was truth?  I have examined many photographs from the Library of Congress taken during the Great Depression and the war years. Of those, many capture the realities of awful conditions in the makeshift migrant camps in California in the 1930s. Others, like the one below, depict better conditions, documenting babies wearing clean pajamas -- in cribs with clean sheets – and with a caregiver present. Unlike the recent photographs of the Border Patrol centers today, there are none documenting children living on the floors of cages, without sufficient clothing.

Courtesy: Library of Congress - “Nurse’s Aide at Manzanar, 1943”

All of this again leaves me frustrated with what actions we, as nurses and historians of nursing, can take. After researching what the American Nurses’ Association did in response, I found that they wrote a position statement, condemning the treatment of these migrant children.  Perhaps we can write another, supporting the ANA? I will discuss this possibility with the Board during our next conference call. I welcome your thoughts on this issue. (You can reach me at [email protected])

I can also recommend that we, together as an Association, or as individuals, contribute to such organizations as RAICES – based in Texas and providing legal aid to the immigrant children (https://www.raicestexas.org/ ), “Save the Children” (https://www.savethechildren.org), or “Together Rising” (https://togetherrising.org/).

I welcome any and all ideas for making history relevant to today’s issues. I would also like to thank Michelle Hehman for her contributions to this message.  Hope to see everyone in Dallas to continue our discussion.

Arlene W. Keeling PhD, RN, FAAN

1 Charles M. Blow, “Trump’s Concentration Camps,” The New York Times, June 23, 2019; see also: Riane Rolden, “Lawyer: Inside an immigrant detention center in South Texas, ‘basic hygiene just doesn’t exist,” The Texas Tribune, June 24, 2019
2 https:www.latimes.com/nation/la-migrant-child;border-deaths-20190524-story.html
3 https://abcnews.go.com/Politicss/doctor-compares-conditions-immigrant-holding-centers-torture-facilities/story?id-63879031)
4 Arlene Keeling, Michelle Hehman, John Kirchgessner, History of Professional Nursing in the United States: Toward a Culture of Health, (Springer, 2018)


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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.

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We look forward to the 2019 Conference in Dallas, TX! 
September 19-21, 2019 at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas.  

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            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.