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National League for Nursing Collection

Preserving the history of nursing through the National League for Nursing Archives project.

The National League for Nursing (NLN) and the Bates Center are joining forces to preserve the NLN’s rich history in an archival repository for scholarly historical research.

The oldest nursing organization in the United States, founded in 1893, the NLN works across the spectrum of nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of the nation and the global community. Its rich history is vital for scholars and students investigating the history of nursing, nursing education, and nursing accreditation.

President Eisenhower with nurse leaders after signing proclamation for National Nurses Week, Oct 8, 1954 (L to R: Lucile Leone, Assistant Surgeon General, Agnes Ohlson, ANA President, and Ruth Sleeper, NLN President).President Eisenhower with nurse leaders after signing proclamation for National Nurses Week, Oct 8, 1954 (L to R: Lucile Leone, Assistant Surgeon General, Agnes Ohlson, ANA President, and Ruth Sleeper, NLN President). Four NLN Presidents during break at the meeting, January 1964 (L to R: Ruth Sleeper, Ruth Freeman, Lucile Leone, and Lois Austin).Four NLN Presidents during break at the meeting, January 1964 (L to R: Ruth Sleeper, Ruth Freeman, Lucile Leone, and Lois Austin).

In 2013, the Bates Center, with generous support from the Independence Foundation, helped the NLN conduct a survey of its records, data, publications, and other significant documents. In 2017, we formally initiated a four-year process of identifying and preserving NLN archives. Since then, the Independence Foundation stepped in with a generous gift to fund the development and implementation of a full archival repository of NLN holdings, including video digitizing and the digitization of paper records. As it is a matching grant, the NLN Foundation for Nursing Education continues to seek funds in order to preserve the League’s past as a resource for scholars. For more information on how to donate to this project please visit NLN’s donation page.

Celebrating 125 Years of Leadership in Nursing Education

At the NLN Education Summit held in September 2018 in Chicago, Illinois, the National League for Nursing celebrated 125 years of NLN leadership creating and sustaining excellence in nursing education. Featured throughout the conference were visual displays of historic moments in the history of the NLN and presentations that featured how the NLN will continue to lead and shape nursing education for the future. 

As featured in their commemorative book for the 125th anniversary, a timeline of the NLN history is available on their website. 

As part of the Archive Processing Project, the Bates Center has digitized over 50 video tapes produced by the NLN during the 1980s and 1990s. The video are now available for viewing at the Center. For the 125th the NLN and the Center compiled a selection of NLN Nursing Leaders in Their Own Voices. 

For questions regarding the videos or usage of the videos please contact the Center at (215) 898-4502 or email: nhistory@nursing.upenn.edu.

NLN Nursing Leaders

Nursing in America: A History of Social Reform

Digitized Annual Reports

First and Second Annual Conventions of the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses

Fifth Annual Convention of the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses

Sixth Annual Convention of the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses

Seventh Annual Convention of the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses

When using the digitized materials in research or classroom use, please use the following citation: National League for Nursing collection, Barbara Bates Center for The Study of The History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania

For other purposes, please contact the Center via email: nhistory@nursing.upenn.edu