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Virginia Dunbar was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in 1919 and her nursing diploma from Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1923. In 1930 she received a Master of Arts in nursing administration degree from Teacher College of Columbia University. In 1936 she received a scholarship to study the history of nursing at the Florence Nightingale International Foundation in London. Her distinguished career included many influential administrative positions. She was assistant director of the University of California School of Nursing from 1933 to 1938. From 1938 to 1944 she was assistant director of the American Red Cross Nursing Service. She was promoted to Director of this service, a position she held until 1946. From 1946 to 1958 she was dean of the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing. She was on the advisory board to the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing, and active in the Nurses Alumni Association. Her writing was published in many journals including the American Journal of Nursing. Her work focused on nursing education and its advancement.

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The Virginia Dunbar Collection consists of correspondence with Lucille Wright, class of 1945. Additional original material pertaining to Dunbar can be found in the records of the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association.

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