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Richard Olding Beard: An Extraordinary Feminist. May 7, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Academia, History, Inspiration, Professional Practice.
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This note is about a work-in-progress, a scratch pad entry from the Desk of Marie Manthey.. it includes a resource list at the end and an invitation to comment and join in the process!

Nursing and the Women’s Movement have had an interesting, challenging and contradictory relationship since modern nursing was born around the 1870’s.

Never a feminist herself, Florence Nightingale created a profession for nurses – for women – where none had existed before. This profession is based on values that have been associated with women.

Fast forward 40 years to the life of Richard Olding Beard, a professor of physiology in the University of Minnesota Medical School. His strong vision of the contribution nursing could make to the benefit of society gave the school of nursing a trajectory that continues to compel the future.

He founded the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota, which was the first nursing education program within an academic institution. He clearly supported higher education for women and recognized the foundation of science in nursing. He presciently imbued the School of Nursing with multiple societal values that continue to be expressed in the work of its graduates today. Richard Olding Beard saw Nursing’s potential capacity for increasing social justice in the world; for example because of how nursing values the act of caring for the sick – all of them – without regard for position, wealth or status.

There is much more to come, in the full article. To end this preview, here is one of my favorite quotes of his:

“The history of a university or school – and particularly of a professional school – may be guided or misguided by its governing body, may be inspired or uninspired by its faculty, but it is actually written in the work and in the play, in the life and character, in the future achievements and influence of its students.” R. O. Beard, Graduation of the School of Nursing, September 1923.

Beard’s writings (articles mainly) have been a treasure trove for me, and I encourage you to check them out. There is a collection of his writings at the Anderson Archives at the University of Minnesota Library.

Additional information: Honoring the Past, Creating the Future – School of Nursing Celebrates a Century of Leadership. Minnesota Nursing, Spring/Summer 2009. P 2-3.

Please comment below with any questions, thoughts, anecdotes etc..!

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