as we are, on a bridge between millenniums, we
wonder about our future as we reminisce about our
past. Theres good reason for reflection.
"To know where
youre going," someone once said,
"you have to know where youve
been." If success during the past 100 years
is measured by commitment, and worth counted by
contribution, then nursing has a rich history
Nursing care may
not have made headlines, overshadowed, perhaps,
by medical innovations. Still, when it comes to
health and healing, nursing has been there every
step of the way. For every Jonas Salk, there was
a Lillian Wald, for every Sigmund Freud, a
Hildegard Peplau. In a century so dominated by
discoveries, nursing made its own breakthroughs,
bringing new meaning to the word "care"
and laying the foundation for another kind of
bridge between science and humanity.
With such a proud
professional heritage, as partially outlined
here, todays nurses will cross over to the
next millennium bolstered by the courage,
commitment, and perseverance of their forebears,
and, we expect, ready and able to make a little
history of their own.
Happy New Year
from the staff of Nursing Spectrum!
1900 - The first
issue of the American Journal of Nursing is
published. Its editor, Sophia French Palmer, was
one of the first nurses to campaign for state
licensing and assisted in formulating much of
nursing registration legislation.
1901 - The
International Council of Nursing, established in
1899, holds its first meeting at the World
Exposition in Buffalo, NY.
1901 - Illinois,
New Jersey, New York, and Virginia are the first
states to organize state nursing associations. By
1909, 33 states would form nursing associations.
1901 - The Army
Nurse Corps is established with an exclusively
female rank and file. Male nurses would not be
permitted to serve as military nurses until after
the Korean War in the 1950s. Once men were again
allowed into Army nursing, their numbers
increased in civilian nursing as well.
1903 - North
Carolina is the first state to pass a
registration law for nurses. New Jersey, New
York, and Virginia follow with their own laws the
1908 - The
National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses
is formed. Mary Mahoney, the first professional
black nurse, gives the welcome address at the
organization's first conference in 1909.
1909 - The School
of Nursing of the University of Minnesota becomes
the first nursing school organized as an integral
part of a university.
1909 - Lillian
Wald urges the Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company to organize a visiting nurse department
at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City.
The program was later extended to the company's
industrial policyholders and served as the
foundation for modern-day insurance nursing.
1909 - The nursing
service of the American Red Cross (ARC) is
formed. Jane Delano, head of the Army Nurse Corp
who had served as a volunteer under then head of
the Red Cross Clara Barton, became the nursing
service's first chief. During World War I, the
ARC recruited and equipped 49 Army base hospitals
and eight Navy base hospitals with nurses, in
addition to its own hospitals.
1910 - Florence
Nightingale dies, as does Isabel Adams Hamptom
Robb, an innovative educator who established the
Johns Hopkins School for Nurses and served as the
first president of the American Nurses
1911 - The
American Nurses Association succeeds the Nurses
Associated Alumnae of the US.
1912 - The
American Society of Superintendents of Training
Schools is renamed the National League of Nursing
1914 - Martha
Rogers, a nursing scientist who would eventually
be known as one of the greatest promoters of
nursing as a science, is born in Dallas, TX.
1915 - Edith
Cavell, a nurse who cared for soldiers of all
armies during World War I and who directed the
escape of French and Belgian soldiers from
prisoner camps, is arrested and executed by a
German firing squad.
1916 - Margaret
Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in
the US. She serves 30 days in the workhouse in
1917 for "maintaining a public
nuisance," but this and other legal
difficulties only serve to garner public sympathy
for her work. Sanger founded the American Birth
Control League, organized the first World
Population Conference, and served as the first
president of the International Planned Parenthood
1916 - Two
five-year bachelor degree nursing programs are
established at Teachers College in New York.
1917 - Forty-five
states have enacted practice acts defining
nursing practice and adopting the term
1917 - The US
enters World War I. M. Adelaide Nutting organizes
the National Emergency Committee on Nursing to
meet growing military and civilian demands for
nursing services. As the war wages on, the Army
Nurse Corps grows to 21,000 nurses; nearly 1,500
nurses serve in the Navy.
1918 - Nurses
respond across the US to a flu epidemic of
unprecedented proportions. Worldwide, the Spanish
flu claims the lives of more individuals than
World War I. The Red Cross Town and Country
Nursing Service is transformed into the Bureau of
Public Health Nursing Service and assumes the
responsibility of improving sanitary conditions
in Army camps along the eastern seaboard hit hard
by the flu outbreak.
1918 - Mary Sewall
Gardner accepts the position of chief nurse of
the American Red Cross Tuberculosis Commission
for Italy to direct Red Cross efforts during
World War I. She wrote the book Public Health
Nursing, the first American text on the subject.
1919 - Lucy
Minnegerode is appointed as the superintendent of
nurses for the US Public Health Service (PHS).
Nurses had become an integral part of public
health programs, staffing Ellis Island, as well
as various PHS hospitals and clinics.
1920 - Julia
Catherine Stimson, superintendent of the Army
Nurse Corps, is the first woman to receive the
rank of major in the US Army.
1920 - The US Army
School of Nursing is founded.
1922 - Six nursing
students and their director of nursing at Indiana
University found Sigma Theta Tau. The women
recognized the value of scholarship and the
importance of excellence in practice. In
addition, they wanted to build a framework to
encourage future leaders to effectively improve
healthcare. The founders were Mary Tolle, Edith
Moore, Marie Hippensteel, Dorothy Garrigus,
Elizabeth Russell, and Elizabeth McWilliams.
1923 - The
Goldmark Report, a landmark study on nursing and
nursing education in the US, is released. Among
its recommendations: a call for additional
training beyond the basic nursing course for
superintendents, supervisors, instructors, and
public health nurses.
1924 - Annie
Warburton Goodrich, a contributor to the success
of the Henry Street Settlement, becomes dean of
the nursing program at Yale University, the first
nursing school to be established as a separate
university department with its own budget.
1925 - Mary
Breckinridge introduces a model rural healthcare
system into the US. To provide professional
services to neglected people in southeastern
Kentucky, she creates a decentralized system of
nurse-midwives, district nursing centers, and
hospital facilities. Originally called the
Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies and
later the Frontier Nursing Service, the system
lowers the rate of death in childbirth in Leslie
County, KY, from the highest in the nation to
substantially below the national average.
Professional private duty nurses are working for
a wage of 49 cents an hour, while cleaning women
earn 50 cents per hour. By 1928, more than 69% of
the nursing workforce works in private duty
nursing, with duties that often include domestic
1929 - The stock
market crashes, and nurses, particularly private
duty nurses, are hit as hard with unemployment as
other US workers. In 1932, the American Nurses
Association tackles the problem by proposing
hospital hiring of graduate nurses, beginning a
trend in nursing employment that would last
1929 - The
American College of Nurse-Midwives is formed by
staff from the Frontier Nursing Service.
1931 - A survey by
the federal Women's Bureau conducted during the
Depression finds that, on average, nurses with
less than five years of experience have median
earnings of $1,650. To earn an equal amount,
teachers and secretaries would have to have
worked for 10 years, bookkeepers and
stenographers 15 years.
1933 - The Civil
Works Administration provides funds to employ 300
1933 - The
National Recovery Act sets an eight-hour work day
and 48-hour work week or nurses.
1934 - New York
University begins PhD and EdD programs in
Approximately 6,000 nurses are employed on Works
Progress Administration projects.
1936 - Sigma Theta
Tau is the first organization in the US to fund
nursing research. Since 1936, the society has
underwritten more than 250 grants to cultivate
1936 - In
recognition of her outstanding example to nurses
of all races, the National Association of Colored
Graduate Nurses (NACGN) establishes the Mary
Mahoney Award. When NACGN merges with the
American Nurses Association in 1951, the award is
continued. Today, the Mary Mahoney Award is
bestowed biennially in recognition of significant
contributions in interracial relationships.
1938 - A nurses'
monument (Spirit of Nursing) is dedicated in
Arlington National Cemetery.
1940 - Lillian
Wald dies. In 1893, Wald founded the forerunner
of the Henry Street Settlement, which eventually
evolved into the Visiting Nurse Service for New
York City. She helped initiate revision of child
labor laws, improved housing conditions in
tenement districts, and worked for enactment of
pure food laws, education for the mentally
disabled, and enlightened immigration
1941 - The US and
Great Britain enter World War II and, with a
rising need for nursing services both at home and
abroad, a nursing shortage begins. To combat a
looming crisis, the US Cadet Nurse Corps is
formed, and 123,000 nurses receive
1942 - US military
nurses are taken as prisoners of war in the
Philippines; they are held for 37 months and
freed in 1945. The 1943 movie So Proudly We Hail,
starring Claudette Colbert, is based on their
experiences. In 1999, Elizabeth Norman writes
about their story in the book We Band of Angels.
1942 - The
American Association of Industrial Nurses is
formed and establishes standards for occupational
and industrial nursing.
1943 - The first
class of Army flight nurses graduate.
1943 - Florence
Aby Blanchfield is named superintendent of the
Army Nurse Corps. World War II generated a
critical need for nurses, and under Blanchfield's
leadership, the Corps was expanded from
approximately 1,000 to a force of 57,000 nurses.
Blanchfield received the Distinguished Service
Medal in 1945.
1945 - As World
War II intensifies, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt calls for a draft of nurses. The Nurses
Selective Service Act makes its way through
Congress, but nurses voluntarily respond to the
call. By the end of the war later in the year,
more than 30% of all active nurses had served in
the US Armed Forces.
1945 - The Sister
Kenny Foundation is established to fund research
grants for the development of a live oral polio
vaccine. Sister Elisabeth Kenny revolutionized
treatment of polio and became a pioneer in the
development of physical therapy by rejecting
accepted medical practice of immobilizing the
limbs of paralytic polio victims in braces and
casts and instead promoted physical therapy
techniques that encouraged the use of paralyzed
1947 - Nurses
receive full commission rank in the US military.
1948 - M. Adelaide
1948 - Hildegard
Peplau, who becomes regarded as the "mother
of psychiatric nursing," writes her seminal
book Interpersonal Relations in Nursing.
Publication is delayed for four years, however,
because it is considered too revolutionary for a
nurse to publish a book without a physician
1948 - The report
Nursing for the Future, also known as the Brown
Report, recommends that nursing education be
provided in colleges and universities but is met
with hostility by physicians and hospital
administrators. A follow-up report, A Program for
the Nursing Profession, predicts the development
of two levels of nursing: professional registered
nurse and semiprofessional licensed practical
1949 - The US Air
Force Nurse Corps is established.
1949 - Lucile
Petry Lione of the US Public Health Services
becomes the first nurse and first woman to
achieve the rank of assistant surgeon general,
the equivalent of rear admiral.
1950 - The Korean
War breaks out. Nurses provide care in Mobile
Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units. A shortage
of nurses that began during World War II
continues throughout the decade.
1952 - The first
issue of Nursing Research is published.
1952 - A pilot
project for associate degree programs begins with
seven junior and community colleges and one
hospital from each of six regions of the US. The
idea for the program originated with Mildred
Montag of Teachers College.
1952 - The
National Student Nurses Association is
1953 - Team
nursing is introduced as a model of care.
1954 - Annie
1955 - The
American Nurses Foundation is founded as the
research education and charitable affiliate of
the American Nurses Association.
1956 - In response
to the Hill-Burton Act, which expanded hospitals
across the country and intensified the need for
nurses, Congress enacts the Health Amendments Act
to provide financial aid for federal training
1956 - Katherine
J. Hoffman is the first nurse in the state of
Washington to earn a PhD. Throughout a career
that spanned most of the century, Hoffman fought
for the principle that nursing research was vital
to the development of nursing as a profession and
a science. She was one of the founders of the
Western Society for Research in Nursing and
eventually established the nurse-scientist
program at the University of Washington in 1963.
1962 - Ten Army
nurses arrive in Vietnam. By 1966, 300 military
nurses would be serving in the war-torn country;
by 1973, more than 5,000 nurses would see action
1963 - The Loeb
Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation is
established at Montefiore Hospital in New York
City with the goal modeling the high quality of
nursing care given only by registered nurses.
1963 - General
duty nurses' annual salaries, as reported by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, hover at $4,500.
Teachers' salaries averaged $6,325 and
1963 - Nurses join
the Civil Rights Movement and 200,000 marchers on
Washington, DC. They would later be equally
involved in protests of the Vietnam War and
support of the Equal Rights Amendment.
1964 - The Nurse
Training Act is passed. The act provides
significant financial support for nursing
1965 - Congress
passes Medicare and Medicaid legislation,
enabling a growing elderly population to receive
healthcare services. Coupled with medical
advancements, such as the development of hospital
coronary care units and the introduction of
vaccines for polio and the measles, as well as
penicillin and chemotherapy, people begin to live
longer and receive better healthcare services.
The demand for nurses grows.
1965 - The
American Nurses Association adopts a position
paper on nursing education that calls for
baccalaureate education for future practitioners.
The debate over minimum educational requirements
for nurses continues today.
1965 - The nurse
practitioner is introduced as a specialty at the
University of Colorado.
1965 - The war in
Vietnam revisits the possibility of a draft of
nurses, but consensus across the country holds
that nurses cannot be drafted unless all women
are subject to the draft.
1966 - Male nurses
are appointed to regular Army, Navy, and Air
1969 - Sharon Lane
from Canton, OH, dies from enemy rocket fire in
Vietnam. She is the only woman and only nurse to
die as a result of hostile fire. Her alma mater,
Aultman Hospital School of Nursing, later erects
a memorial to her.
1969 - The
American Association of Colleges of Nursing is
1971 - Dorothy
Smith, a Florida Nurses Association member,
retires from the University of Florida College of
Nursing. Smith was the founding dean of the
college of nursing (1956) and chief of nursing
practice at the university's teaching hospital.
1971 - The
National Black Nurses Association is established.
1973 - The North
American Nursing Diagnosis (NANDA) is formed.
Nursing diagnosis becomes part of the nursing
1975 - The
American Nurses Association holds a ceremony to
honor the first certified nurses.
1975 - Florence S.
Wald develops a hospice model that provides
holistic and humanistic care for dying persons.
1976 - The
American Nurses Association (ANA) Hall of Fame
for nurses is launched. First inductees include
Isable Adams Hamptom Robb, who, among other
accomplishments, was ANA's first president; Mary
Adelaide Nutting, who, when she accepted the
chairmanship of the newly developing department
of nursing education at Teachers College,
Columbia University, became the first nurse ever
to be appointed to a university professorship;
Lavinia Lloyd Dock, who wrote Materia Medica for
Nurses, one of the first nursing textbooks;
Martha Minerva Franklin, who was one of the first
nurses to actively campaign for racial equality
in nursing and under whose guidance 52 nurses
assembled to form the National Association of
Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908; Isabel Maitland
Stewart, who was instrumental in the early
development of nursing research; and Adah Belle
Samuel Thoms, who was a crusader for equal
opportunity for blacks in nursing and who became
an acting director at a time when blacks rarely
held high-level positions.
1979 - The
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Nursing Center
opens. It is one of the first of a new trend of
academic nursing centers.
1980 - The nursing
case management model is established at the New
England Medical Center in Boston, MA.
1980 - The
International History of Nursing Society changes
its name to the American Association for the
History of Nursing.
1981 - Estelle
Massy Osborne dies. Osborne was the first black
nurse in the US to earn a master's degree. In
1945, she became assistant professor at New York
University, the institution's first black
1985 - The Nursing
Minimum Data Set (MDS) is developed.
1985 - Sigma Theta
Tau is incorporated as Sigma Theta Tau
International, Inc., to support and connect the
global community of nursing scholars who enhance
1986 - The
National Center for Nursing Research is founded,
eventually becoming the National Institute for
Nursing Research of the National Institutes of
1986 - Iowa
emergency nurse Barbara Fassbinder becomes one of
the first healthcare workers to contract AIDS on
the job. She worked throughout the remaining
years of her life toward the development of
standard precautions for healthcare workers.
1988 - Nursing
Spectrum is established in Illinois. It grows to
six divisions and a website
1989 - Sigma Theta
Tau International, Inc., dedicates the
International Center for Nursing Scholarship,
designed to serve as a "think tank" for
all nursing professionals.
1989 - The
International Classification of Nursing Practice
1991 - Operation
Desert Storm, the Persian Gulf War, begins. Women
staff almost 40% of the military medical units.
1993 - The Women's
Vietnam Memorial is dedicated in Washington, DC.
It is the result of work by Diane Carlson Evans
and Donna-Marie Boulay, former Army nurses who
served in Vietnam.
1994 - Advanced
practice nurses gain admitting privileges at
Columbia University. Three years later, the
university would establish the first faculty
group practice in nursing, the Columbia Advanced
Practice Nurse Associates, a primary care
practice that is reimbursed for advanced practice
services at the same rate as physicians.
1999 - Hildegard
1999 - The
International Council of Nurses celebrates its
centennial. It is the oldest of all international
organizations for professional workers.
1999 - The
Minority Nurses Coalition is established.
Association for the History of Nursing. Available
at: www.aahn.org. Accessed November 2, 1999.
ANA Hall of Fame
Inductees. Available at: www.nursingworld.org/hof/alphalst.htm. Accessed November 2,
Nursing: The Finest Art. An Illustrated History.
St. Louis, MO: CV Mosby; 1985.
Mullan, F. Plagues
and Politics: The Story of the United States
Public Health Service. New York, NY: Basic Books,
Schorr, TM. 100
Years of American Nursing: Celebrating a Century
of Caring. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams
& Wilkins; 1999.