Nurses As Neighbors: Community Health And The Origins Of School Nursing

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This dissertation examines the origins and development of school nursing as an outgrowth of Progressive reform, especially in the settlement house movement. The Progressive stories of the rise of nursing and the transformation of public education have traditionally been told separately, but they come together in the person of the school nurse. School nursing was the brainchild of nurse Lillian Wald of the Henry Street Settlement, who had created a visiting nurses' settlement because she wanted both to treat individuals and to help transform the social conditions that contributed to their poor health. Eventually she came to believe that education and health were the twin pillars of reform; both were essential to democracy, since civic participation depended on schooling, but without healthy bodies, children could not learn. Ultimately, Progressive nurses believed that health, like education, should be in the realm of the government, and that once they had achieved the success of compulsory education, universal health care would be right around the corner. Thanks to Wald's efforts, in 1902, Lina Rogers became the first municipal school nurse in the world. Although visiting nurses had previously performed many of the same duties in the homes that school nurses then did, the school nurse indicated a change in responsibility: while settlement houses were funded by benefactors, nurses and doctors in the schools were paid for by the city. Rogers' program paved the way for future city and state programs such as the ones run by Dr. Sara Josephine Baker at the New York Division of Child Hygiene and later at the Federal Children's Bureau. Rogers and her colleagues became powerful forces for inclusion as they helped to redefine what communities meant in American culture. The school nurse captured the Progressive belief that the state had a responsibility to provide both education and health care to all, and that public education and public health were inseparable.

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Public Health; School Nursing; Settlement Houses


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Sachs, Aaron

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Devault, Ileen A
Samuels, Shirley R

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Ph. D., History

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Doctor of Philosophy

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dissertation or thesis

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