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Mary Patricia Donahue papers

Identifier: IWA0512

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Scope and Contents

The Mary Patricia Donahue papers date from 1872 to 2006 and measure 3 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series: Biographical, Courses, Publications and projects, Research files, Professional, Teresa Christy, Iowa Association of Colleges of Nursing, Photographs, and Audiovisuals.

The Biographical series (1975-2006) includes information about Donahue's education and career, such as CVs, awards, and newspaper articles that feature Donahue, the University of Iowa College of Nursing, or the nursing profession. The series also documents Donahue's service trip to a Romanian orphanage in 2005. The Courses series (1982-1997) contains course outlines and teaching materials for classes Donahue taught at the University of Iowa College of Nursing.

The Publications and projects series (1971-1999) is comprised of Donahue's published work, conference papers, and materials related to specific programs or projects with which she was involved. The series includes materials related to Donahue's best known publication, Nursing, The Finest Art: An Illustrated History, as well as her unpublished research, drafts, manuscripts, grant proposals, and correspondence with editors and colleagues. The series also includes several issues of the American Association for the History of Nursing Bulletins; each bulletin contains a president's message written by Donahue. The University of Iowa Main Library holds Donahue's dissertation, Isabel Maitland Stewart's philosophy of education, written in 1981. The Research files series (1872-1983) consists of documents, correspondence, and publications used by Donahue for her research and teaching. Of particular note are a copy of a letter from Florence Nightingale and documents and letters pertaining to M. Adelaide Nutting.

The Professional series (1960-1999) includes materials such as job evaluations, committee records, university transcripts, brochures relating to Donahue's presentations, and letters of reference and thanks. The series also incorporates nursing newsletters that contain interviews with Donahue.

The Teresa Christy series (1950-1981) contains documents related to Donahue's colleague, Teresa Christy. Christy, also a member of the University of Iowa's College of Nursing faculty and a nursing historian, advocated patient rights and published numerous articles on the history of nursing and nursing education. When Christy died in 1982, Donahue acquired her teaching and research files. The series includes Christy's 'Portrait of a Leader' articles that recount the lives of prominent nurses such as Lillian D. Wald, Isabel Maitland Stewart, Isabel Hampton Robb, and M. Adelaide Nutting. Photographs of Christy are included in the photographs series.

The Iowa Association of Colleges of Nursing series (1980-2003) includes the administrative files of this organization, which promotes continuing education for nurses. Donahue served as president from 2000 to 2006. Included in this series are agendas, minutes, budget plans, membership lists, and correspondence.

The Photographs series (1974-2003) includes snapshots and professional photographs of Donahue's professional activities. These include photographs of her presentations and trips, studio portraits, photographs with students, and photographs from the 2003 University of Iowa commencement. The series also contains a studio portrait of Teresa Christy and three slides of Christy with her students.

The Audiovisual series (1970-1987) includes two videocassettes, twenty-five audiocassettes, and five beta videotapes. The videocassettes include Donahue's lecture for the Distinguished Nursing Lecture Series and a brief slideshow on the history of male nurses created by two of Donahue's nursing students. Most of the audiocassettes are lectures by Teresa Christy on nursing. These tapes are approximately an hour in length and are of good quality. Also included is a brief recording--apparently taped from a record album--about Florence Nightingale and the development of the nursing profession; the speaker is unknown. The five beta videotapes include lectures by Teresa Christy. The IWA does not possess a device to play beta videotapes.

Donahue's papers include two books shelved in the IWA printed works collection:

Addams, Jane, Twenty Years at Hull-House, Chicago: The MacMillian Company, 1910. HV 4196.C4 H7 1910.

Wald, Lillian D., The House on Henry Street, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. HV 4196 N6 W35 Cop. 4


  • Creation: 1872-2006


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Mary Patricia "Pat" Donahue, nurse educator and scholar, was born in 1939 in Youngstown, Ohio. Donahue received her nursing degree from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1960. She then earned her BSN and MSN from the Ohio State University School of Nursing, where as a faculty member for fourteen years, she worked in both clinical and teaching positions. Donahue was a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa from 1976 to 2006. She received her doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Nursing in 1981 and was promoted from assistant professor to full professor in 1993. Between 1999 and 2006, Donahue served as the Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Nursing. During that time she initiated and oversaw the professional Masters in Nursing and Healthcare Practice (MNHP) program at the University of Iowa. Donahue retired in 2006.

Donahue achieved national prominence as a nurse historian and educator. She published over one hundred articles, reviews, and books on nursing history and education, terminal illness, and the ethics and philosophy of nursing. Donahue published her best-known work, Nursing, The Finest Art: An Illustrated History, in 1985. Donahue belonged to numerous professional organizations including Sigma Xi, the American Nurses Association, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, and the Philosophy of Education Society. She held leadership positions in Sigma Theta Tau, the Iowa Nurses Association, the Johnson County Unit of the American Cancer Society, and the American Association for the History of Nursing, of which she was president from 1988 to 1990. Donahue received numerous honors including the Teresa E. Christy Award in 1985, induction as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 1989, the Agnes Dillon Randolph Award in 1996, and the University of Iowa Distinguished Achievement Award in 2006.


3.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Nurse educator and scholar.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 887) were donated by Mary Patricia Donahue in 2003 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

University of Iowa College of Nursing records (IWA): Administrative records are held by the University of Iowa Archives and the departmental history records are held by in the Iowa Women's Archives.

Myrtle Kitchell Aydelotte papers (IWA): Myrtle Kitchell Aydelotte was professor of nursing (1957-1976), dean of the College of Nursing (1949-1957), and director of nursing for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (1969-1976).

Anderson, Lee. Complete in All Its Parts: Nursing Education at the University of Iowa, 1898-1998, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998. [MAIN Library RT 80 I82 1693]

Jun-Nicole Matsushita, 2006; Sarah M. Dorpinghaus, 2007.
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)