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National Nurses Week

May 10, 2012

R.N., a journal for nurses, October 1953 cover, Texas Nurses Association, District 8 Records, MS 102

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week.  In 2009, we published a post commemorating the week focusing on two related manuscript collections: Texas Nurses’ Association, District 8 records and the Arvella Bentley Vowell Nurses collection.  This year, we’ll revisit those 2 collections, but also take a look at some other archival materials that document nursing in Texas.

Texas Nurses’ Association, District 8 records – The Texas Nurses Association is a statewide membership-based association of registered nurses. Founded in 1907, TNA is the oldest professional nursing association in Texas. Members of the organization fill many roles of nursing, including bedside, administration, consulting, advanced practice, education, and legislation. The records of District 8 have been collected since 1976 by member and historian Arvella Bently Vowell and consist of administrative records, clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and printed materials.

A variety of nurse’s uniforms, Texas Nurses Association, District 8 Records, MS 102

Arvella Bentley Vowell Nurses collection – Vowell was a registered nurse who received her nurses training in 1929-1933. She worked full-time as a nurse in San Antonio, Texas, serving as a school nurse, private nurse, psychiatric nurse, and polio nurse. In addition, she was a visiting nurse at Kelly Field during World War II, a health nurse at Trinity University, and a staff nurse at Nix Hospital. Vowell was also the historian for the District 8 of the Texas Nurses Association, beginning in 1976.  The Vowell Nurses collection consists of clippings, correspondence, books, papers, a scrapbook,  photographs and memorabilia.

Oral histories:  Over 450 oral histories from the Institute of Texan Cultures Oral History Collection were recently made available in our digital repository.  Of those, are two interviews with Brigadier General Lillian Dunlap, U.S. Army Nurse Corps retired and one with Lieutenant colonel Augusta L. Short, U.S. Army Nurse Corps retired.

Second Lieutenant Lillian Dunlap, Los Negros, 1944

  • Lillian Dunlap was the second woman to become a general officer in the Army’s history and the first Texas woman to attain the status of brigadier general.  She served in World War II, Korean and Viet Nam and was instrumental in founding the Army Medical Department Museum at Fort Sam Houston.   After her 1975 retirement, Dunlap became a San Antonio civic and business leader andwas inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.
  • August Short graduated from the Army School of Nursing in 1926 and had career as a nurse anesthetist and administrator in the Nurse Corps. She served in the Philippines and Panama and worked with the Red Cross and Red Crescent. She was honored for her service through a scholarship for nurses, named for her, at Incarnate Word.

Photographic materials: A simple search of the digitized content from our photographic collections reveals more than 50 images related to nurses or nursing.  The images not only document nursing in local hospitals like, such as the  Good Samaritan,  Robert B. Green, and Surgical and Obstetrical, but also military nurses, local schools and the American Red Cross.  The bulk of the images are from the San Antonio Light Photograph Collection.

Nurse inoculating city dogcatcher, November 1948, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359

African American Red Cross volunteer nurses, December 1942, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359

Mrs. G. Kelley giving immunization, April 1942, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359

Nurses help Francisco Ortez to cross street, 1937, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359

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