Dallas Keynote Speaker

Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN
Reinterpreting Nursing History


My paper will examine how historians’ areas of interest influence not only what we choose to study and preserve in archives but also how we look at and interpret past events. The paper will draw upon my past work on writing about a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, and will involve a reinterpretation of my earlier conclusions by telling a more inclusive narrative.It helps us to think about how Black self-empowerment and activism can be an important part of history, and it highlights how the past is still part of the present.

Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN, holds the Thomas A. Saunders III Professorship in Nursing at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. She is also the Director of the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry. Dr. Wall received her BS from the University of Texas at Austin and her MS in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University. She earned a PhD in History from the University of Notre Dame. Her research illustrates the gendered story of hospital establishments and the nursing profession. She has been funded by the NIH and private grants. Her award-winning book, Unlikely Entrepreneurs: Catholic Sisters and the Hospital Marketplace, 1865-1925 (Ohio State University Press, 2005), integrated history and nursing practice to inform how America’s two-tiered approach to health delivery (private and public) served a diverse American populace. Her second book, American Catholic Hospitals: A Century of Changing Markets and Missions (Rutgers University Press, 2011), analyzed the heretofore invisible role of Catholic sister nurses as leaders of the largest not-for-profit health care system in the United States and the tensions that developed as religious institutions attempted to directly shape health policies in a diverse milieu. Her newest book, Into Africa: A Transnational History of Catholic Missions and Social Change (Rutgers University Press, 2015), explores the intersection of religion, medicine, gender, race, and politics in sub-Saharan Africa after World War II. This book won the Lavinia Dock Award in 2016 from the American Association for the History of Nursing and the American Journal of Nursing award for Best Book in History and Policy. She also is co-editor, with Dr. Arlene Keeling, of two books on the history of nursing in disasters: Nurses on the Front Lines: When Disasters Strike, 1878-2010 (2010); and Nurses and Disasters: Global, Historical Cases (2015); and she is the Editor-in-Chief of Health Emergency and Disaster Nursing, the official journal of the Disaster Nursing Global Leader Degree Program. Her latest book is Through the Eyes of Nursing: Educational Reform at the University of Texas School of Nursing, 1890-1989, co- written with Dr. Billye J. Brown.