President's Message May 2022

In 1980, a small group met to form a society whose focus was to assure vigorous and useful scholarship in nursing history. The group called itself, the International History of Nursing Society.  In 1990, the society’s members renamed themselves the American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN) and sponsored a new annual journal.  The purpose of the first journal was, in the words of its first editor, Joan Lynaugh, to “celebrate more than a decade of achievement in the field”….and at the same time inaugurate a new era of historical research and writing.  According to Lynaugh, the new journal, called Nursing History Review (NHR), would serve as a vehicle to bring the work of nursing historians to “health professionals, historians, other scholars, and to the public we serve.” The intent of the first journal was to help all of those interested in health care history to keep in touch with new and ongoing work, gain ready access to related historiography, and analyze the perspective of contemporary health care concerns.

I think it bears repeating who the founding members were.  In addition to Joan Lynaugh as founding editor, colleagues such as Barbara Brodie and Vernon Bullough served as consultants. The Interdisciplinary editorial board consisted of Nettie Birnbach, Olga Church, Donna Diers, Marilyn Flood, Diane Hamilton, Darlene Clark Hine, Beatrice Kalish, Susan Reverby, and Nancy Tomes. Together, they made decisions that set the standards by which the Review operates today.  After 12 years under the leadership of Joan Lynaugh, Pat D’Antonio became the new editor of the review in 2002 and served for an additional 18 years. As she noted in her Editor’s Note in 2014, “a new generation of scholars with different backgrounds and experiences are turning to the history of nursing with new paradigms and methodological tools”.  She writes, “these new scholars are placing their historical nurses… within a context that reveals something about power, place and particular moments in time”. While recognizing the international, interdisciplinary nature of the study of health care history, D’Antonio advanced nursing scholarship significantly while remaining faithful to the initial intent established by Lynaugh many years ago.

And now, NHR enters a new phase while based on the founding principles and standards set over 30 years ago.  Arlene Keeling began her editorship of NHR in 2021 and she brings a new perspective that is evident upon first glance. NHR received its first cover make-over and the addition of a new section called “Hidden in Plain Sight” made its debut. The current Editorial Board includes Christine Hallett, Michelle Hehman, Annmarie McAllister, Erin Spinney, Lydia Wytenbroek and Doris Rikkers.  While some things are new, readers still receive the best scholarly manuscripts from the global community of historians researching health care history and nursing history from a diverse and inclusive perspective. In keeping with the original intent of Joan Lynaugh and the first board of directors, efforts are underway to expand the reach and accessibility of NHR, to provide for non-member access to the journal both in print and online, and to increase access to libraries and institutions around the world. NHR has a new publisher, Texas Christian University Press, and a separation agreement with Springer Publishing that provides AAHN with the copyright to all previous editions of NHR.

There are indications that the health care world is finally waking up to the need to look to the past to prepare for the future and that nursing education needs a strong foundation in nursing history in order to educate nursing leaders who will lead the way.  The future for Nursing History Review is bright and in good hands. Stay tuned for more information because change is happening at NHR and AAHN and it is good.

All the best,


Melissa Sherrod
President AAHN 2020-2022

Lynaugh, J. (1990). Editorial. Nursing History Review, 1 (1). Springer.
D’Antonio, P. (2014). Editor’s Note. Nursing History Review, 1(22). Springer.
Keeling, A. (2020). Looking forward. Nursing History Review, 1 (28). Springer.