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Iowa Nurses' Association



The Iowa Nurses Association was founded in Des Moines in January 1904 as a state unit of the American Nurses Association. Both national and state associations formed primarily out of an existing network of nurse alumnae associations. The association was first known as the Iowa State Association of Graduate Nurses. The first objective of the national and state organizations was to effect legislation standardizing nurse education and establishing a board which would oversee educational standards and register graduate nurses (hence, the title Registered Nurse). In 1909 the association was renamed the Iowa State Association of Registered Nurses (ISARN) to reflect its members' new professional status. In the late 1940s or early 1950s, the name again changed to the Iowa State Nurses Association (ISNA). At the 1956 convention, the association adopted its current name, Iowa Nurses Association (INA).

The overall purpose of the association has been to promote and improve the professional skills and status of nurses. Some of the continuing activities of the INA have included efforts to provide insurance and death or disability income for its members; collective bargaining to improve pay, benefits, hours, and working conditions for nurses; continuing education workshops and professional conferences; promotion of research and scholarly writing among its members; and encouraging young women to enter the profession through promotion and scholarships.

As a female dominated profession, the Iowa NursesAssociation has also addressed women's issues, even when they were not widely considered. In 1964, for example, as part of her keynote address at the INA Convention, Barbara Schutt, an officer of the ANA, stated:

It seems to me that our greatest deterrent to effective action within nursing is our lack of self-esteem which is often necessary for the courage to act. Part of this is because we are women...; part of this is because we have allowed ourselves and others to think of nursing as a subsidiary of medicine; part because we continue to encourage paternalism, authoritarianism, and a hierarchical structure....

Following the Second World War, when returning servicemen trained as nurses began to enter the profession in large numbers, the Iowa Nurses Association made efforts to include and consider men in their professional association. The INA was also influential in encouraging Iowa Nursing Schools to admit men to their programs.

The Economic Security Committee, later known as the Professional Security Committee, then the Economic and General Welfare Committee, has been involved in efforts to improve the working conditions, pay, and benefits for Iowa Nurses. The INA is not a union but does represent nurses in collective bargaining and grievance proceedings with hospitals, nursing homes, visiting nurse associations, and other employers.

In 1951 the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) merged with the American Nurses Association, as did each association's state affiliates. In Iowa this merger seemed to have happened smoothly and African-American nurses apparently were accepted as equal professionals within the association. None ran for office in the 1950s but several African-American nurses served on committees and task forces during those years.

The Iowa Nurses Association has been involved with many organizations related to nursing and the health professions since its very early years. The INA was responsiblefor advocating the formation of the state Board of Nurse Examiners (later theBoard of Nursing), and continued to demand input in decisions regarding the board, including the selection of members. The association's members were responsible for establishing the Iowa branch of the American Red Cross in 1911. Nurse recruitment for service in the First and Second World Wars, as well as later recruiting for Armed Services Nurses, has been the responsibilityof the INA. In 1914 the Iowa State League of Nursing Education was organized in Dubuque as an affiliate of the National League for Nursing Education, which was founded in 1893. The INA has always participated in the organization and governance of the League, which was especially active inrecruiting young women to enter nursing schools as Cadet Nurses during the Second World War to meet both armed service and public health nursing shortages.

In 1952, the National League for Nursing Education, the National Organization for Public Health Nursing (founded 1912), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing (founded 1933), the Joint Committee on Practical Nursing and Auxiliary Workers in Nursing Service (founded in 1945), the National Committee for the Improvement of Nursing Service (founded in 1949), and the National Nursing Accreditation Service(founded in 1949) merged to form the National League for Nursing (NLN). The Iowa affiliates of these organizations were similarly merged to form the Iowa League for Nursing (ILN), later known as the Iowa Citizens League for Nursing (ICLN). INA members have been active in the above organizations, and the INA andILN have maintained a close professional association and a standing Joint Coordinating Council.

In 1949, after several years of effort by the INA, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill providing for licenser of practical nurses, thus recognizing the distinctive training, tasks, and title of Licensed Practical Nurse. In 1950 the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Iowa (LPNAI), an affiliate of the National Association for Practical Nurse Education, was formed with the support and encouragement of the Iowa Nurses Association and with much the same purposes and goals as its sister association. The two associations have worked closely together for the improvement of nursing in Iowa.

Various offices of the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) around the state have been operating for most of the century and the Iowa Nurses Association has workedwith local VNAs in providing service. The INA has also cooperated closely with the Iowa Medical Association, the State Departments of Health and Social Services, and the Governor's office in planning and promoting a high quality of health care in the state.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Iowa Nurses Association, Fifth District records

Identifier: IWA0015

Local chapter of the Iowa Nurses Association.

Dates: 1922-2001

Iowa Nurses' Association records

Identifier: IWA0023

State branch of the national organization. The overall purpose of the association has been to promote and improve the professional skills and status of nurses.


Administrative Records, 1904-1989 (boxes 1-18) American Nurses Association, 1928-1989 (boxes 18-24) Committees, 1933-1989 (boxes24-34) Continuing Education, 1955-1989 (boxes 34-36) Conventions, 1904-1989 (boxes 37-44) Districts, 1920-1984 (boxes44-48) Economic Security,1946-1989(boxes 48-57) Iowa League for Nursing,1913-1980 (boxes 57-61 Iowa Organizations, 1926-1989 (boxes 61-68) Membership, 1904-1988 (boxes 68-70) Publications, 1917-1985 (box71) Sections, 1940-1984 (boxes 71-77) Student Nurses Association, 1949-1984 (boxes 77-78) Photographs, 1918-1987 (boxes 78-79) Artifacts, 1981-1988 (box 80) Audiotapes, 1974-1987 (box 81) Oversize, 1916-1987 (box 82 and container 83)

Dates: 1904-1989

Additional filters:

African American women -- Iowa 1
Cultural artifacts 1
Medical education 1
Nurse administrators 1
Nursing students 1