Skip to main content

University of Iowa College of Nursing records

Identifier: IWA0511

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The University of Iowa College of Nursing records date from 1887 to 2005 and measure 5.75 linear feet. The records are arranged in six series: Departmental history, Publications, Iowa Nursing Center, Photographs, Newspaper clippings, and Artifacts. The records held by the Iowa Women's Archives are primarily concerned with the history of the college; the University of Iowa Archives holds the administrative and academic records of the college. Many of the materials in this collection were housed originally in the Heritage Room in the College of Nursing until the contents of the room were disbursed in 2003.

The Departmental History series (1887-2005) contains administrative documents and correspondence pertaining to the College of Nursing budget, admissions, and curriculum, and catalogs and memorabilia from commencement proceedings, the college's inauguration, and the building dedication. Included are a handwritten letter by a navy nurse stationed in Pearl Harbor in 1945, and correspondence concerning the background and donation of a 1750 glass breast pump and a bisque doll dressed in an early University Hospital nursing uniform. Many of these items were originally housed in the College of Nursing's Heritage Room.

The Publications series (1926-1973) consists of notebooks, books, and articles concerning the history of nursing, nursing in Iowa, and nursing as a profession. Procedure manuals detail the rules, schedules, and standard nursing protocol at Mercy Hospital and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The Iowa Nursing Center series (1985-1990) documents the formal organization and development of this company, which was owned and operated by registered nurses. The purpose of the Iowa Nursing Center was to promote nursing as an autonomous profession. The Iowa Nursing Center was housed within the UI College of Nursing, and Dean Geraldene Felton served as president of the first board of directors. The Center offered consultation services for nursing professionals, and health assessments, referrals, and health promotion services for children, adults, and the elderly in work places, schools, clinics, and homes.

An extensive collection of Photographs (1907-1988) depicts a wide variety of nursing activities, in addition to class photographs and formal portraits of faculty and students, departmental social events, and university buildings. The bulk of the series consists of professional photographs and negatives of nursing students at work with patients, in the classroom, and at leisure.

The social activities, academic accomplishments and departmental events of the College of Nursing are documented in the Newspaper Clippings series (1897-1991). The newspaper clippings are in bound three-ring notebooks; newspaper clippings from 1907-1949 were removed from their original notebooks for preservation purposes.

The Artifacts series (1750, 1900s) consists of nursing uniforms and medical equipment such as syringes and a leather bag used by nurses on house calls. Artifacts donated to the Heritage Room include a 1750 glass breast pump and a bisque doll that is dressed in the University Hospital nursing uniform.


  • Creation: 1887-2005


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.

Biographical / Historical

The University of Iowa first lists "The Training School for Nurses" as a two year course in the 1896-1897 university catalog. Jennie S. Cottle was named the first superintendent of the hospital and principal of the Training School, with one student admitted in the fall of 1897. Five additional students were admitted with the opening of the new university hospital in 1898 and in 1900 the training program was extended to three years.

In 1906 the nursing students were moved from their hospital residence to a rented dwelling. In 1915 the nursing students occupied the Eastlawn residence until their move to the Westlawn nurses' residence five years later. Undergraduate nursing students resided there until 1964, when the building was remodeled into classroom and office spaces.

The School of Nursing was listed on the Iowa State Board of Health list of approved schools in 1908 and in 1919 the nursing program was established as a five year program that integrated liberal arts and nursing. Lois B. Corder and Lola I. Lindsey assumed administrative and educational direction of the School of Nursing in 1927. The Board of Regents appointed the first nursing faculty, Amy Frances Brown, as assistant professor in 1948 and within a year the Board moved to establish a collegiate program in nursing. Myrtle E. Kitchell was appointed director of the school in August 1949 and on December 3, 1949 she was installed as the first dean of nursing. The College of Nursing was thus formally inaugurated as the tenth autonomous college of the University of Iowa. In September of the same year the first class of students was admitted to the baccalaureate program in nursing.

In 1951, the general nursing program leading to a bachelor of science in nursing was established and a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made possible the first graduate program in nursing; the three year program leading to a certificate of graduate nursing was discontinued by 1955. Thirty-two students graduated as the first class to receive their bachelor of science in nursing degrees from the College of Nursing in 1953. By 1960 the graduating class swelled to one hundred and six students, and a four-year curriculum was approved by the Board of Regents. The general nursing program leading to a master of arts degree was approved by the Graduate College in 1958 and further revisions of the graduate program in 1961 resulted in three clinical nursing majors: medical-surgical, pediatric, and psychiatric nursing.

A three-year federal training grant in 1976 enabled the college to offer the medical-surgical major as an outreach graduate program and two years later another three-year federal training grant was used to revise and evaluate the graduate program and its curriculum, and to develop and implement an outreach model of graduate level courses. During the same year the revised graduate program that led to the MA degree was implemented. The master of arts degree was changed to a master of science in Nursing (MSN) in 1995.

Graduate work at the doctoral level was explored in a feasibility study in 1985 and the doctoral program was established that same year. As a result of its growth, the College of Nursing submitted two letters of intent to apply for a construction grant and a "General Statement of Building Needs" prior to its formal application for a construction grant in 1966. The grant was approved by the University administration the next year and the state provided matching funds. The building construction took two years with a ground breaking ceremony in October 1969 and the final dedication and occupation of the new College of Nursing building in December 1971.


5.75 Linear Feet

Photographs in boxes 8-11. boxes

Language of Materials



The history of nursing education at Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

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

Related Materials

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

Mary Patricia Donahue papers (IWA): Professor of nursing and associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Nursing (1999-2006).

Four books by Bertha Holt, shelved in the printed works collection (IWA).

Additional University of Iowa College of Nursing records and materials are preserved in the University Archives, Special Collections department, University of Iowa. Materials include administration records and publications of the College of Nursing, as well as several faculty and alumni files.

Jun-Nicole Matshushita, 2006; Sharon M. Lake, 2008.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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)