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Nursing history show and tell: Issue 1

Mar 1, 2019
Guylaine Spencer

The McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences Archives houses several collections, including those of the McMaster School of Nursing. This is the first in a series of articles where we’ll be highlighting some of our historic treasures.

Artifact: The Mary Adelaide Nutting academic regalia gown

 gown

What is the academic regalia gown of a Columbia University nursing professor doing in the archives of the McMaster University Faculty of Health Science?

Mary Adelaide Nutting (1858-1948) was a leader in the movement for university education for nurses. Born in Canada, she made her career in the United States at the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing and later at Columbia University, where she held the first university professorship in nursing in the world. She led many nursing organizations and helped launch the American Journal of Nursing in 1900, the oldest academic nursing journal in the world.

According to the documentation held in the archives, “Dr. Gladys Sharpe, the first director of the McMaster School of Nursing, was offered this academic regalia gown by Isobel Stewart, a close friend of Nutting’s, after Nutting’s death. ... During her years at McMaster, Dr. Sharpe wore the gown and left it to her successor Dr. Alma Reid who presented it to the school for the archives.”

Dr. Janet Landeen is writing a history of the McMaster School of Nursing. She notes, “Nutting had an influence on McMaster’s program. She advocated for an integrated curriculum, one in which clinical experience and theoretical learning occur at the same time, or in close proximity.  Most baccalaureate programs at the time were 2+2 or 3+2 models, with clinical experience occurring in hospitals who had control over the curriculum during that period of time.  The university portion occurred before or after the hospital experience.  In 1946, the McMaster program became the second integrated BScN in Canada. ”

Close-up of the tag showing the name of the firm who made academic regalia (Cotrell & Leonard): 

tage of gown of Nutting

For more information about the history of the McMaster School of Nursing, see: McMaster School of Nursing History Page.

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