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Archives and Collections


The Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing makes possible innovative research on the history of nursing and health care through one of the largest and most accessible collections of documents and images in the country focusing specifically on the historical development of nursing.

The Bates Center contains archival and manuscript material, along with a library containing approximately 2,000 books, monographs and other printed materials.  The majority of the Center's collections are housed in the University of Pennsylvania Records Center (URC)​*.  

Center Resources​

Center resources provide the building blocks for numerous important books, articles, and dissertations on many topics, such as:

          • ​​​​international nursing
          • ​​​nursing and public policy
          • ​​​home-based nursing
          • ​​​visiting nurse associations
          • ​​​​​nursing in epidemics and war
          • ​​​the care of the critically ill
          • ​​​nursing education
          • ​​​nursing ethics
          • ​​​nursing as both an occupation and a professional identity
          • ​​​nursing for specific populations such as women and children and individuals with psychiatirc illnesses, and
          • ​​​the twentieth century relationship between nursing and American philanthropy.

Bates Center collections support the work of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students engaged in research projects as well as that of persons outside academe, including photo editors, genealogists, and members of nursing alumni groups. The Center welcomes researchers and scholars from across the country and around the world interested in using Center collections for their projects. A professionally trained curator oversees the collections, processing, services to researchers, and preservation of materials, book, and photographs.

Center Books

The Center maintains a small, yet growing book collection of approximately 3500 important titles. These titles do not circulate but patrons are welcome to examine them in the Center's reading room during normal hours of operation. The Center's book and manuscript holdings may be searched by author, title, or subject via the University of Pennsylvania's on-line catalog, FRANKLIN.


*The Center acknowledges University Archives, and its Director, Mark Frazier Lloyd, for in-kind contributions of storage support.  ​


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