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School of Nursing
Records, 1908 - 1998


58 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Kaiyi Chen

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


Transferred from the School of Nursing in 1974, 1991, 1997 and 2000.



Although the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania started a nurse training program as early as 1886, the University did not begin its nursing degree program on a collegiate basis until 1935 when, at the request of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, the Board of Trustees of the University authorized the establishment of a Department of Nursing Education in the School of Education. Katherine Tucker was appointed Professor and Director of the department, a position which she retained until her retirement in 1949. Programs leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Education, with majors in nursing education and public health nursing, were offered to graduates of hospital nursing schools. Courses were also offered in Extension Divisions to nurses in eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. In 1937, a program leading to the degree of Master of Science in Education with a major in nursing education was established. In 1944, the Trustees of the University further authorized the establishment, in the Division of Medical Affairs, of a Basic Collegiate School of Nursing with a five-year basic program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Theresa I. Lynch was appointed Director (the title was changed to Dean in 1946). In 1949, Lynch was appointed Director of the Department of Nursing Education, in addition to her responsibilities as Dean of the Basic School.

1898 photograph of five nursing students (Miss Taylor, Margaret Forrest, Mosser, Mary Swuidells, Katherine W. Lester)

In 1950, the Department of Nursing Education merged with the Basic School to form the School of Nursing of the University of Pennsylvania as an independent professional school in the Division of Medical Affairs. The school offered both the degree of B.S. in Nursing Education and the degree of B.S. in Nursing. Graduate courses leading to the degree of M.S. in Education with a major in Nursing Education remained in the School of Education.

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In 1951, the School of Nursing, with approval by the Educational Council, initiated a program for graduates of diploma courses leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing to replace gradually the baccalaureate programs in nursing education which had been started in 1935. In 1953, the School secured approval from the Trustees for a four-year program to replace the five-year basic program. In 1954, the School received accreditation by the National League for Nursing for its programs leading to baccalaureate degrees for graduates of hospital nursing schools. The same year, programs leading to the B.S. in Nursing Education were discontinued. The program for registered nurses leading to the degree of B.S. in Nursing was revised and renamed as the General Nursing Curriculum for Registered Nurses. Additionally, the School was authorized by the Trustees to undertake a five-year experiment in which a two-year program in nursing leading to an Associates in Applied Science degree was offered. This program was discontinued in the sixties.

In 1957, the School was surveyed again by the Accrediting Service of the Department of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs of the National League for Nursing; full accreditation was awarded to all programs. The Trustees authorized the establishment of the Graduate Division in the School of Nursing with programs leading to the degree of Master of Science in Nursing in 1961. Frances C. Thielbar, who had been in charge of the masters program in nursing at the University of Chicago, was appointed Chairman of the Graduate Division, a position which she held until her death in 1962.

In 1965, Dorothy A. Mereness became the second dean of the School of Nursing. In 1966, major changes in the Master's curriculum were initiated. Admission and promotion standards were raised and implemented. The curriculum was lengthened from two academic semesters and two summer sessions to four academic semesters. All the clinical programs were reorganized.

After the University accepted responsibility for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, its Board of Trustees voted in early 1974 to close the nurse training school that had existed with the Hospital since 1886. When the last class graduated from the Hospital school in 1978, the School of Nursing took over the Tri-Institutional Education Building at 420 Service Drive, which has since housed the headquarters and all programs of the School.

The School celebrated its silver anniversary in May 1975. In 1977, Claire M. Fagin became the third dean of the School and held the position until 1991. Norma M. Lang, the fourth dean, served from March 1992 to August 2000.

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1974 and 1991 Accessions (Boxes 1-11):
The records for the 1974 and 1991 accessions are organized into the following eleven series: History and historical documents, 1935-1983; Annual Reports, 1965-1986; Records of the Board of Overseers, Committees, and other meeting institutions, 1950-1998; Administration, 1942-1990; Course outline, 1952-1976; Programs and projects, 1948-1974; Budgets, 1936-1971; Alumnae association, 1959-1979; Other organizations, 1940-1982; Subject files, 1908-1976; Photographs, microfilms, audio and video tapes, 1957-1995.

1997 Accession (Boxes 12-24):
The records for the 1997 accession have been organized into the following series: Annual Reports, 1986-1994; Board of Overseers, Committees, etc., 1978-1996; Administration, 1954-1996; Course syllabus, 1980-1997; Primary Care Graduate Program, 1979-1994; Personnel File, 1966-1998; Alumni Activities, 1964-1989; University of Pennsylvania, 1958; Videotapes, 1981.

2000 Accession (Boxes 25-58):
The records for the 2000 accession have been organized into the following series: Administrative Files, 1966-1994; Teaching and Research Programs, 1980-1993; Individual Faculty Files, 1971-1995; Business/Financial Files, 1981-1994; Book-Reference Collection, 1984-1994; Audio-video Tapes, 1988-1990.

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1974 and 1991 Accessions (Boxes 1-11):

The records of the School of Nursing reflect the history of the school, its functions and programs, as well as its relationship with the University and other organizations.

The series of History and historical documents, 1935-1983 consists of correspondence of early years, copies of material documenting the University's decisions regarding either its early nursing programs or the School of Nursing in later years, and historical sketches or chronological accounts of the development of the school written at different times.

Annual Reports, 1965-1990,

Committee records, 1950-1975, comprise records of all committees and various regular meeting institutions of the School of Nursing. They are mainly minutes and correspondence, and are arranged alphabetically by the name of the institution. Records of the University committees are to be found in the series of "Other organization" with other university records.

The series of Administration, 1942-1990 consists of the following sub-series: reports and statements, NLN accreditation file, social activities file, conferences, contracts, correspondence, dean's file, faculty file, the file of plans, policies and procedures, student file, and miscellaneous material. The reports and statements contained in this series concern progress and evaluation of various programs and academic curricula of the School. The accreditation file is purely of applications or reports to the National League for Nursing for accreditation purpose. The contracts are between the School of Nursing and various hospitals or health care organizations either for nursing practice of the students of the School of Nursing or for the special courses offered to nurses or students from the latter. The dean's file contains papers of the first two deans, Theresa Lynch and Dorothy Mereness. The bulk of the faculty file is the Faculty Manual, available from 1981 to 1988. The "Plan, policies, procedures" file includes long-term planning documents and policy manuals of different periods. The student file contains student handbooks and two sets of nursing graduates master list, 1975-1982 and 1985.

The Course outline series contains outlines of all undergraduate and graduate courses. They are mostly courses for programs in nursing. There are only a few for programs in nursing education. Material for each curriculum usually consists of a syllabus, bibliographical listings, and the class schedule. The courses are primarily arranged numerically by the course number.

Programs and projects mainly consist of the academic programs and the grant projects funded by various outside funding sources. The corresponding financial material for some of these grant projects may be found in the series Budgets, 1936-1976.

The series of Budgets documents the financial status of the School as well as its individual programs and projects.

Included in the series of Alumnae association are records of the Society of the Alumni, which consist of correspondence, minutes, and newsletters.

For simplicity of organization, all documents related to the University and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania have been grouped as sub-series in the series of Other organizations. The University documents are mainly records of various University committees concerning the School of Nursing. Included in the series of Other organizations are also records of outside organizations, among them the National League for Nursing and the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

The Subject file and the Photographs file, small in content, finish out the collection.

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1997Accession (Boxes 12-24):

This record group reflects the development of the School, its functions and programs in more recent years.

The series of Annual Reports starts where an identical series ends in the previous
collection. It documents all major activities of the School in the period from 1986 to 1994.

The series of Board, Committees, etc. comprises records of the Board of Overseers of the School and records of its Council Meeting, Faculty Meeting, Faculty Senate and two committees. As a continuation from a similar series of the previous collection, this series covers the period from 1978 to 1996.

The series of Administration, 1954-1996, consists of the following sub-series: the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Penn School of Nursing, records of the School's accreditation with the National League for Nursing, a social activities file, and the file of the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing which includes the School's reports to the State Board as well as the latter's approval of various programs run by the School.

The Course Syllabus series is a sequel to the course outline series of the previous collection. It includes the courses the School provided for all its programs.

Corresponding to the series of programs and projects of the earlier collection is the series of Primary Care Graduate Program. The new series consists of files of individual faculty members who participated in the research and teaching on the Program, grant proposals and budgets, course syllabus and evaluation, a general file of staff curriculum vitae, and administrative correspondence. Related to this Program is one set of video teaching aids on the skill of patient-centered medical interviewing.

The Personnel File comprises employment data of the faculty and staff of the School, which concerns such personnel matters as appointment, re-appointment, tenure discussion, promotion, compensation and job termination.

Alumni activities are documented in the sub-series of the fiftieth anniversary celebration files as well as the Alumni Activities series. The University of Pennsylvania series consists of three files of the Educational Survey the University of Pennsylvania conducted on its nursing education in 1958.

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2000 Accession (Boxes 25-58):

This record group is a continuation to the two earlier record groups of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing records. The bulk of the group documents the activity of the School during the Claire M. Fagin administration (1977-1991).

The series of the Administrative Files, 1966-1994, consists of one large sub-series--the Office of the Dean Files, and two smaller ones--the Board of Overseers records and a file of the Ethics Committee. The Office of the Dean Files include such major sub-groups or subjects as the file of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing; the file of a nation-wide Baccalaureate Nursing Program survey conducted in 1987; a file of the Bellagio international nursing development conference sponsored by the Penn Nursing School in Italy in 1989; the Nursing Building construction file, the files of the Council of Deans and Council of Undergraduate Deans (both institutions of the University); Dean's general correspondence; a fund raising file; a Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania file; the Institute of Medicine file; the Penn Medical School Dean search file; and the Penn Medical Center file.

The series of the Teaching and Research Programs, 1980-1993, embraces such programs as the Clinical Nursing Scholars Program, the Continuing Education Program, the Dean's Distinguished lectures, the Early Hospital Discharge and Nurse Specialist Folow-up Project, the Nurse-Midwifery Program, the Nursing Serious Illness program, and the Teaching Nursing Home Program.

The Individual Faculty Files are professional papers of individual Penn nursing faculty members in relation to various administrative or teaching and research activities each of them was engaged in. This series includes information on Claire Fagin's appointment as the University President Interim as well as files of other faculty members, among them Barbara Lowery (Director for Continuing Education and Chairperson of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing), Mary D. Naylor (Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Studies), Ann L. O'Sullivan, and Catherine Wollman.

The Business/Financial Files documents the financial and fiscal aspects of the School administration from 1981 to 1994. The series consists of two major sub-groups--the gift transmittal file and the comptroller's monthly summary reports of the accounts of the School of Nursing and its various accounting units--departments, centers, programs and funds.

The Book/Reference Collection and the Audio-video Tapes make two small series. The audio cassette tapes are principally the recorded proceedings of the Bellagio international Conference, which the School of Nursing sponsored in November, 1989.


Related Materials: The personal papers of three deans of the School of Nursing--Theresa I. Lynch, Dorothy A. Mereness, and Claire M. Fagin--are in the collections of the Center for the Study of the History of Nursing.

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