So, what do you give a nurse for Nurses Day? Well, there are whole web sites out there designed to get the thoughts stirring, but we here in Historical Collections & Archives have found the perfect gift: a unique piece of history.
That's right: our methodical survey of the collections in offsite storage has revealed yet another uniquely held item, and this one is a key document in the history of the ANA and the organization of American nursing. ANA analysis of the report of the structure of organized nursing by Raymond Rich Associates is the Association's response to a study of the organizational structure of the six American nursing organizations in existence in 1946. The report tackles issues from non-nurse membership to specialty societies to recruitment and board review. (Interestingly, the previous owner of the OHSU copy was inspired to underline and highlight only two phrases in the 58-page report, both "collective bargaining.")
The double-column layout of the analysis, with excerpts from the Rich report on the left and the ANA "study and comments" on the right, provides a fascinating back-and-forth reading of all the major issues in nursing. As with much organizational assessment, however, there are many issues which could easily cross over to provide insight to other disciplines. Take the Association's comments on the report's findings on professional journals:
In so far as publications are concerned, the Rich Report appears to be concerned primarily with income and assuring a flow of income into the treasury of an organization rather than with the functions of the publication....Whether print or electronic, the song remains the same.
Most associations, in the minds of advertisers, have a publication which could not exist if it had to stand on its own feet....
An important factor in keeping a magazine constantly on its toes is to be in a position of standing or falling on its editorial merits....
In 1947, Raymond Rich Associates also conducted a study of a national health library, a copy of which is held, again, by only one library in the United States. So, during this Nurses Week, you might want to honor our nurses--and their history--by capturing a nurse's story, saving a nursing brochure, or digging that old nursing text out of your closet/basement/attic and offering it to a repository near you. Someday, it may be a uniquely valuable record.