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Mary Adelaide Nutting was born in Waterloo, Quebec. She was a graduate of the first class of the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing in 1891. After graduating, she remained at the Johns Hopkins Hospital as a head nurse for two years. In 1893, Nutting became Assistant Superintendent of the nursing school. When Isabel Hampton resigned as Superintendent in 1894, Nutting was named as her replacement. While Superintendent at Johns Hopkins, she expanded the curriculum in the school of nursing from 2 to 3 years, added a preclinical training period, limited the number of hours nursing students could work, and established a professional and historical library at the school. With Lavinia Dock, she wrote the multi-volume History of Nursing (1907-1912). She also wrote numerous articles, which were collected in A Sound Economic Basis for Nursing (1926). She helped found and held leadership positions in all the major nursing professional organizations, as well as the American Journal of Nursing. In the aftermath of the Spanish American War, Nutting worked toward the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps. When Maryland passed legislation for the registration of nursing school graduates in 1904, Nutting was the first nurse registered in the state in recognition of her leadership in that effort.

In 1907, she left Johns Hopkins to become professor of institutional administration at Columbia Teachers College and was the first woman to hold a professorship at Columbia University and the first university professor of nursing in the world. She established a graduate nursing education program and led Columbia’s Nursing Education Department until her retirement in 1925.

Nutting remained an active member of the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumnae Association, and regular contributed to its alumnae magazine. In 1915, she advocated for the endowment of the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing and later campaigned for university status. When the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing opened in 1984, the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association established the school’s first endowed chair, the M. Adelaide Nutting Professorship, funded by their endowment fund which was also named in her honor.

Scope and Content

The Mary Adelaide Nutting Collection covers her entire career at Johns Hopkins and her later professional years. Series include her student notebooks, correspondence, biographical material about Nutting, and photographs. Much of the biographical material was produced after her death by Virginia Dunbar and Nutting biographer Helen Marshall. Correspondents include Elsie Lawler (1928), Loula Kennedy (1928-1940), Jessie Black McVicar (1939-1944), and Anna Wolf (1931-1943). The collection includes material related to Nutting’s work with Committee to Secure by Act of Congress the Employment of Graduate Women Nurses in the Hospital Service of the US Army at the time of the Spanish American War, as well as her work during World War I. Also in the collection are documents related to Nutting’s interest in the history of nursing, tuberculosis and visiting nurse associations. Material culture objects in the collection include Nutting’s alumni pin, academic hoods, desk and typewriter. Additional original material pertaining to Nutting can be found in the records of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses and the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association.

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