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NLN Announces Expansion of the NLN Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

The National League for Nursing proudly announces that a project underway for nearly a decade—the NLN Collection at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, housed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia—has been expanded.

March 17, 2023

The National League for Nursing proudly announces that a project underway for nearly a decade—the NLN Collection at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, housed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) in Philadelphia—has been expanded. This extensive archive, which preserves the historical record of the National League for Nursing, the nation’s first nursing association, has been built with generous initial funding from the Philadelphia-based Independence Foundation and matching donations from the NLN Foundation for Nursing Education.

The entire archive, a selection of which has been digitized by the archival staff at Penn Nursing’s Barbara Bates Center, under the leadership of Patricia D’Antonio, PhD, RN, director of the center. Jessica Clark, archivist, led the digitization process. The NLN archives is now available to scholars and other stakeholders who study the history of nursing, nursing education, and accreditation of nursing programs that span the spectrum of higher education.

The NLN Collection tells the fascinating story of the League’s birth at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and follows changes and expansion through the following 130 years as the leading voice of nursing education today in the preparation of an outstanding, caring, diverse, and culturally competent nursing workforce to serve the 21st century’s complex, dynamic, global health care environment.

The archival content, which may be accessed online as well as live at the Bates Center, includes reports and proceedings of annual conventions from 1894-1952; meeting minutes; correspondence detailing milestones and trends; biographical data of early leadership; books and other publications; and a detailed timeline through the League’s history.

More than 150 videotapes produced by the League during the decades of the 1980s and ’90s capture keynote addresses and interviews with nursing leaders, as well as offer insights into public health care policies and nursing practice, among a range of topics.

NLN Nursing EDge Unscripted Conversation Saga, a League podcast now in its third season, brings a contemporary perspective to visitors to the NLN Collection. The series presents stories in nursing education that connect the past to the present and establish a link to the future by inviting a re-imagining of teaching and learning throughout history.

Recent episodes feature discussions about changes over the years thanks to the League’s groundbreaking Curriculum Revolution. Additional information about the Curriculum Revolution may be found among the more than 1,100 NLN published books, pamphlets, and booklets digitized in the Books and Publications section online.

“The National League for Nursing has been proud to collaborate with the exceptional scholars at Penn Nursing’s Barbara Bates Center who have worked with tireless devotion to build and preserve a user-friendly, accessible repository of these irreplaceable historical holdings. Expertly organized and curated, the NLN Collection will undoubtedly further the understanding of how nursing, nursing education, and nursing accreditation have evolved within the medical establishment and as a reflection of societal norms, expectations, and visions of what may lie ahead,” said NLN Chair Kathleen Poindexter, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, interim associate dean of academic affairs at Michigan State University in Lansing.

“The National League for Nursing pathfinders led with purpose and tenacity to co-create a transformative future for nursing education,” said NLN President and CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN. “It is vital for current and future scholars to have access to these archives, and we are indebted to Penn Nursing’s Barbara Bates Center, the Independence Foundation, and the leadership of Dr. Elaine Tagliareni, EdD, RN, CNE, FAAN for partnering with us to make that possible.”

“The Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is privileged to serve as the manuscript and digital repository of materials and videos from the National League for Nursing,” said Patricia D’Antonio, PhD, RN, director of the center. “Archives, however, are only as influential as their utilization. We ask you to explore and ask and answer the kinds of questions that are essential to understanding the history of nursing education. These inquiries can shape a path forward as we engage with 21st century challenges and possibilities.”

The NLN Foundation for Nursing Education has funded the expansion, facilitating plans to digitize more content and expand the collection itself. To that end, the League is issuing a public call for donation of National League for Nursing historical material to the Bates Center. Records of committee work, conventions, minutes, and reports are of particular value.

Anyone interesting in donating materials for the collection is asked to email the Bates Center at nhistory@nursing.upenn.edu. Fundraising also continues with donations to the NLN Foundation encouraged. For more information, visit NLN.org.

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