Archive for December 13th, 2019

In recognition of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday and her contributions to health, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. This post is a continuation of another post that focused on midwives.

Nurses have gone from being regarded as a menial profession to a respected field of study. The three books detailed in this post examine two extraordinary women who lead the shift and one extraordinary local nursing school that educated future nurses.

Reminiscences of America’s First Trained Nurse is an autobiography written by Linda Richards, known as “America’s First Trained Nurse”. The book discusses very briefly her childhood but goes on to discuss her education and, then, her career in nursing.  Richards is considered the first trained nurse as she was the first nurse to enter and graduate a newly organized nursing school. She described the instruction at the school as limited and that the nurses weren’t even allowed to know what medicines were being used, as they were numbered. There were no textbooks nor exams. After her education, she travelled around the Eastern hemisphere, where she spent of her career in England and Japan.

Richards spent time overseas in England, where she met Florence Nightingale and other programs spread across the country. In Japan, she managed a nursing training school for Japanese women. What started in a cramped building expanded to multiple, more spacious buildings. During her time in Japan, she noticed the women made good nurses due to their patience, charm, compliance, and ability to copy what they were taught. As time passed, they also defied cultural norms and took charge with male patients. After 5 years in Japan, she returned to the United States to work in different schools for 20 years, including multiple mental health and state hospitals.  The first trained American nurse devoted her life to making sure others received the training they needed.

Florence Nightingale, the inspiration behind next year’s theme, was not just the founder of modern nursing, but a social reformer and statistician. During her career, she rose to prominence for her management of medical care during the Crimean War, introduced higher standards of hygiene in medical care, workhouses, and homes, and helped establish the first secular school of nursing. The school, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, still stands today at the King’s College, London in England.

Notes on Nursing: What it Is and What it is Not was originally published in 1859, but this copy contains both the original work along with reflections of prominent nursing theorists nearly a century and a half later. Despite being sometimes regarded as a training manual for nurses, it was actually intended for those who were at-home nurses. It primarily covers advice for hospital environments/patient care. However, it focuses more on the practices than the patients themselves. Throughout the book Nightingale only refers to nurses by she/her or as women. In the margins, Nightingale has left short notes or annotations. Through this particular work and her work as a nurse, Nightingale will be known for bringing nursing into a modern age and bringing compassion into nursing.

In 1883, residents of Sioux Falls are determined to establish a hospital after tales of medical progress from the Chicago World’s Fair reached the city. It was in 1884 that they received their first patient—whose first choice had been the penitentiary, which was a safer option than a hospital at the time. Over the hospital’s history, the orthopedic department and children’s department rose in prominence due to patient care offered during the polio epidemic in the late 1940s. During the 50s, after a rise in demand for diploma education, the school re-established their three-year degree program. Today, the hospital exists as the Sanford USD Medical Center.

The Sioux Valley School of Nursing: 1898-1986 covers the entirety of the history of the Sioux Valley Hospital School of Nursing, from its inception in 1898 to its final graduating class. It is dedicated to Anna Haugan Berdahl, the first full-time, paid administrative staff member, and covers 7 distinct eras: “We Begin”, “Years of Change”, “Sioux Valley Hospital”, “New Horizons”, “The Three-Year Diploma”, “The Unsettled Years”, and “The Final Decade.” It contains many photos of students, uniforms, and buildings. Some chapter pages designating the covered era include excerpts from actual school and hospital rules or policies. The final pages have a timeline covering the span of the school’s existence. In total, the school graduated 2,120 nurses. As new doors opened for women in the job field, the doors to the Sioux Valley School of Nursing closed.

If you’d like to learn more about USD’s College of Nursing’s history, click here. For a list of recommended websites, visit USD’s Nursing Library Guide here


To find each work in our collection, click on the title in the following list of references:

Nightingale, F. (1992). Notes on nursing : What it is, and what it is not (First ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Richards, L., & Austin, A. (1949). Reminiscences of Linda Richards : America’s first trained nurse. Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Sioux Valley Hospital. School of Nursing. (1986). History of Sioux Valley Nursing School, 1896-1986. Sioux Falls, SD: Sioux Valley Hospital.

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