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Marjory Gordon papers

Collection MS-2004-066: Marjory Gordon papers


  • Creation: 1903 - 2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1968 - 2005

Scope and Contents

The Marjory Gordon papers document her career as a nurse educator and as a key figure in the development of nursing diagnosis, particularly through her creation of the Functional Health Patterns (FHP). Her papers comprehensively cover her doctoral studies, professional research, publications, and contribution to national and international conferences. To a lesser extent her papers also document her high school and college years and a glimpse of her relationships with friends and relatives. Materials include awards, curricula vitae, notes, bibliographies, diagnoses lists, workshop handouts, slideshow printouts, article clippings, typescripts of conference paper presentations, correspondence, and research proposals and data.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Recordings and digital content have been digitally copied from source media; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room.

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

Marjory Gordon was born on November 10, 1931 in Cleveland, Ohio to Margaret Doran Gordon and Robert Gordon. She began her nursing education at the Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, where she received her diploma in 1955. She earned a BS in education with a major in nursing at Hunter College of the City University of New York (1961) and an MS in teaching medical-surgical nursing from Hunter the following year. While obtaining her degrees she worked at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Queens Hospital Center School of Nursing. She served as a full-time faculty member in the graduate division of the Medical Surgical Nursing Department at Boston University School of Nursing (1962-1971).

In 1969, Gordon began doctoral studies in educational psychology at Boston College. When she completed her degree in 1972, she became an associate professor in the Department of Nursing at the Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She served as director of the doctoral program of the Boston College School of Nursing (1987-1989). Gordon taught at Boston College until her retirement in 1996, when she was named Professor Emeritus.

Gordon was engaged in professional organizations; notably, she served as chair of the Task Force of the National Group for Classification of Nursing Diagnosis from its inception in 1973 until its reorganization into the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) in 1983. Then she was the inaugural president of NANDA. Gordon was reelected as president twice, serving until 1988. Additionally, she was chair of the New England Regional Conference Group on Nursing Diagnosis (1974-1977) and co-founder of the Massachusetts Conference Group for Classification of Nursing Diagnoses (1975). Gordon collaborated extensively with international nursing diagnosis groups and presented at international conferences regularly from 1989 into the mid-2000s.

Gordon's research projects included: Reliability Training of Nursing Diagnosticians (1978), Discharge Nursing Diagnoses in a Population of Obstetrical-Gynecological Patients (1978-1980); Functional Health Patterns, Validation of Parameter for Assessment (1985); Diagnostic and Ethical Reasoning, United State Public Health Service grant project co-director (research 1983-1988, data analysis 1989-approximately 1992); and Nursing Content Validity (three projects: Community Health Nursing, Rehabilitation Nursing Diagnosis-Intervention-Outcome Links, and Critical Care Nursing Diagnosis-Intervention-Outcome Links, 1987-1990s).

Her books included the Manual of Nursing Diagnoses and Nursing Diagnosis: Process and Application (first editions 1987); and Assess Notes: Nursing Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning (2008). The first two were re-released multiple times during her lifetime and widely translated.

Gordon was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (1977) and NANDA International (2012). She received the Sigma Theta Tau Dorothy Garrigus Adams Founders Award (1979); Japan Society of Nursing Diagnosis Distinguished Service Award (2004); NANDA International Pearls and Mentor awards (1998 and 2008); and the American Academy of Nursing Living Legend award (2009).

Gordon died on April 29, 2015.


Curriculum vitae drafts and background materials, Box 1, Folders 20-29, Marjory Gordon papers, MS.2004.066, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

"Obituary, Marjory Gordon of CSON, Pioneer in Nursing Diagnosis" Boston College Chronicle, Volume 22, Number 16, 7 May 2015.


19 Linear Feet (23 containers)

433 Gigabytes (25 files with approximately 14.5 hours of audio and moving images plus digital documents)

Language of Materials



These papers document the career of twentieth-century Boston College nursing faculty member Marjory Gordon. Her research, conference papers, workshop materials, draft publications, notes, and correspondence demonstrate her impact on the adoption of nursing diagnoses and functional health patterns to shift the role of nurses within the medical profession and create the nomenclature necessary to include nursing diagnoses in electronic records systems as they were developed.


Arranged in ten series: I. Biographical, II. Correspondence, III. Graduate work, IV. Instruction, V. International, VI. Notes and background materials, VII. Presenting and publishing, VIII. Professional organizations, IX. Research, and X. Works by others.

Marjory Gordon's papers were almost entirely unordered upon receipt. Few materials were foldered and those that were frequently did not have titles. Materials from a given project were not grouped but were spread throughout the materials. Because of this, an unusual amount of inference went into the creation of series. The processing archivist grouped materials by function where that was hinted at by the materials themselves. However, because Gordon taught, researched, and published on nursing diagnoses and functional health patterns across her career, many materials could not be clearly assigned. Materials could have been used in any of her activities and that were lacking context have been put into the Notes series. Slides, handouts, and worksheets have been grouped under instruction whether they may have been used in her university courses, workshops at hospitals, or at conferences.


Gifts of Marjory Gordon and the Estate of Marjory Gordon (2004-2021).

Related Materials

Nurses and nursing:

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.

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

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

Nursing associations:

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

Massachusetts Conference Group for the Classification of Nursing Diagnosis records, MS.2004.021, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

NANDA International records, MS.1998.006, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Visiting Nurse Association of Boston records, MS.1989.006, 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.

Separated Materials

Although some records documenting Gordon's tenure as president of NANDA were aquired by Burns Library through Gordon herself and others from NANDA, all have been consolidated in the NANDA International records (MS.1998.006). Gordon's presidential records also document her work on American Nurses' Association committees as the NANDA liaison.

Gordon served as chair of the Massachusetts Conference Group for Classification of Nursing Diagnoses. Records pertaining to that service can be found in the Massachusetts Conference Group for Classification of Nursing records (MS.2004.021).

Published works associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Marjory Gordon Papers
1903-2014 (bulk 1968-2005)
Lynn Moulton
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