Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor, Associate Director, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

Contact Information
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Room 2016 Fagin Hall
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4217
tel: (215) 746-8321

Dr. Barbra Mann Wall is an Associate Professor of Nursing and the Associate Director of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her BS in Nursing from the University of Texas at Austin, her MS in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University, and her PhD in History from the University of Notre Dame. She is the Editor-in-Chief of, Health Emergency and Disaster Nursing, the official journal of the Disaster Nursing Global Leader Degree Program. Her research illustrates the gendered story of hospital establishments and the nursing profession. She has been funded by the NIH and private grants. Her award-winning book, Unlikely Entrepreneurs: Catholic Sisters and the Hospital Marketplace, 1865-1925, integrated history and nursing practice to inform how America’s two-tiered approach to health delivery (private and public) served a diverse American populace. Her most recent work, American Catholic Hospitals: A Century of Changing Markets and Missions (Rutgers University Press), analyzes the heretofore invisible role of Catholic sister nurses as leaders of the largest not-for-profit health care system in the country and the tensions that developed as religious institutions attempted to directly shape health policies in a diverse milieu.

Dr. Wall has over 25 years of teaching experience in both undergraduate and graduate programs. She teaches a class on Sociocultural Influences on Health and she also teaches Nursing and Gender Health Care in the U.S. and Internationally, 1860-2000. These courses use nursing’s history as a framework for analyzing gendered themes in health and health care. They consider the influence of gender on class based, ethnic, and racial ideas about health and illness; the development of health care institutions; the interplay between religion and science; and the experiences of patients and providers.

Dr. Wall’s research involves the history of Catholic hospitals and sister-nurses as well as oral histories of retired nurses. She is now extending her work to Africa. The overriding theoretical foundation is the interplay between religious and secular institutions and the place of that interplay in social history. Her recent work also addresses the history of disaster nursing and the range of discourses people drew upon when interpreting disasters of the past. Dr. Wall’s research has been utilized in the classroom and in other academic and public settings.

• Currently Funded Grants

• Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

Clinical Practice
Dr. Wall’s clinical experience has included nursing in the areas of critical care, trauma, home care, and psychiatric nursing.


The Mary Adelaide Nutting Award for Exemplary Historical Research and Writing was awarded to Barbra Mann Wall for the article “Catholic Sister Nurses in Selma, Alabama, 1940-1972,” which was published in Nursing History Review in 2009. The article astutely analyses the complex roles that race, gender, and religion played in the practice of health in the southern United States in the mid-20th century.
• Honors/Awards Details »

Publications (select year)
2015  | 2014  | 2013  | 2012  | 2011  | 2010  | 2009  | 2008  | 2007  | 2006  |
2005  | 2004  | 2003  | 2002  | 2001  | 2000 and Prior  | In Press  | More Publications 

“History is a problem-solving discipline. By integrating history into nursing, students can develop the ability to find and evaluate evidence and identify diverse interpretations.”