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Josephine A. Dolan collection of nursing history

Collection MS-1988-004: Josephine A. Dolan collection of nursing history


  • Creation: 1855-2005, undated

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, clippings, artifacts, and ephemera related to Josephine Dolan's work as a nursing historian and teacher. Of particular note are letters by Florence Nightingale and two nineteenth-century pharmaceutical cabinets. Dolan's materials also document her telecourse and textbook on nursing history, entitled Nursing in Society: A Historical Perspective.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research. Audiovisual items may be restricted depending on format, condition, and availability of playback equipment.

Restrictions on Use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note

Josephine Aloyse Dolan was born July 27, 1913, in Cranston, Rhode Island. She attended and graduated from St. John's Hospital School of Nursing in Lowell, Massachusetts. After spending one semester at the "In-Town" campus of Boston College, she enrolled in the nursing program at Boston University and earned baccalaureate degree (1942). Dolan taught for one year at St. Vincent's Hospital School of Nursing in Bridgeport, Connecticut before returning to Boston University for her master's degree.

In June 1944, Dolan began her long association with the University of Connecticut by becoming the first instructor in the School of Nursing. She was not enthusiastic about teaching a history of nursing course, but she soon found that the topic was an interesting one for her. From 1961 to 1971, Dolan was involved with the Committee on Historic Source Materials in Nursing, formed under the National League for Nursing Education. Throughout her career, Dolan was one of nursing's most outspoken advocates for the collection of historical materials and dissemination, teaching, and study of nursing history. In addition to Dolan's contributions to nursing history, her career also demonstrated excellence in teaching and scholarship and extensive involvement in service to the nursing profession. She was the first recipient of the National League for Nursing Distinguished Service Award (1972).

Dolan retired to Holliston, Massachusetts, in 1976. Her reputation as an excellent teacher was publicly recognized when the Connecticut Nurses' Association established the Josephine A. Dolan Award for Outstanding Contribution to Nursing Education (1980). After her retirement, Dolan continued as a guest lecturer at the University of Connecticut and became involved with Connell School of Nursing at Boston College. She received an Honorary Degree from Boston College in 1987. At the annual convention of the Massachusetts Nurses Association in 1992, Dolan was honored with the Lucy Lincoln Drown Nursing History Society's award.

Dolan died on December 4, 2004.


Doona, Mary Ellen. "Josephine Aloyse Dolan." Massachusetts Report on Nursing, 3 (2005): 11-13.

American Nursing: A Biographical Dictionary, v. 2, edited by Vern L. Bullough, Lilli Sentz and Alice P. Stien, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1992.


2 Linear Feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



Collection compiled by nursing historian Josephine A. Dolan composed of artifacts, letters, ephemera, and photographs, with a particular focus on Florence Nightingale. Included are both original and reproductions of Florence Nightingale's correspondence.


The collection is arranged into three series: I: Florence Nightingale, II: Nursing artifacts, and III: Professional papers. Series I is further organized into five subseries: A. Articles, B. Autograph, C. Correspondence (original), D. Correspondence (reproductions), and E. Ephemera. Materials are arranged chronologically within series/subseries.


Gift of Josephine A. Dolan (1988, 1990).

Related Materials

Nurses and nursing:

Josephine A. Dolan collection of nursing history, MS.1988.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Madeleine Clémence Vaillot papers, MS.1989.011, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Margaret A. Colliton papers, MS.1990.010, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Cynthia E. Northrop papers, MS.1998.002, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Nursing associations:

Visiting Nurse Association of Boston records, MS.1989.006, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The American Association of Nurse Attorneys records, MS.1997.018, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Nursing schools:

New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing records, MS.1989.008, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing collection, MS.2000.018B, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History
1855-2005, undated
Justine Sundaram
February 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States