Nurses Found in the Archives

For years we’ve lamented the fact that there is a relative lack of nursing materials in the OHSU Historical Collections & Archives (HC&A) collections and have sometimes struggled to answer reference questions regarding the school and nurses. To our benefit, Barbara Gaines, R.N., Ed.D., OHSU School of Nursing emerita and author of the history of the school, has seen to it that a steady stream of School of Nursing records and some personal papers have come to us through the years. [i] This summer, Barbara introduced us to Sheila Kodadek, RN, Ph.D, connecting us to another valuable source of nursing history. At the time of her retirement, Sheila was Chair of the Department of Family Nursing and was Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. She was also responsible for the development of the BSN program at Western Oregon University.

In my meeting with Sheila, I noticed an invitation to the “Annual OHSU SON Emeritae Luncheon”. Sensing an opportunity, I said in my most inquisitive tone, “Oh, I see that there is a luncheon coming up.”  She asked if I had been invited and when I replied that I had not, she made a call and soon Maija Anderson, (Head of Historical Collections & Archives), and I were on the guest list.

Around 40 emeritae attended the luncheon, including former dean, Carol Lindeman, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. Interim Dean, Chris Tanner, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., made announcements and talked about the school’s current state of affairs.  I was invited to make a brief presentation on behalf of HC&A. I talked about the history of the Archives, how they came about, and where we have come since those early days. Following my presentation, each emerita was asked to share something that was meaningful to them during their careers and their comments were recorded. Most poignant were the expressions of dedication and loyalty they felt for each other and for Dean Lindeman. It was obvious that they attributed their successes to each other and to their dean.

I came away even more impressed by nurses than ever before. As the child of a nurse and having had many dealings with nurses over the course of my career as OHSU’s archivist, I have a special place in my heart for these seemingly selfless and devoted women. (I know, I know. There are male nurses too. I have only had the pleasure of working with women.)

As a result of this fortuitous invitation, we have received significant collections from the School of Nursing. In addition to Sheila Kodadek’s papers, we have received donations from Judith Baggs, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. and Catherine Burns, Ph.D., R.N., C.P.N.P., F.A.A.N. Additional materials from Dean Lindeman are forthcoming. Mary Ann Farnsworth, RN II, also donated her materials. Mary Ann was responsible for the organization and coordination of the OHSU Renal Transplant Body Procurement Program.

We are happy to accept donations from any and all OHSU faculty, staff and students. Our hope is that the word continues to spread that there is a repository where their papers, photos and memorabilia can be donated and where the stories of their lives will not only be preserved, but where researchers will be given access.

Karen Lea Anderson Peterson, MA

Archivist – Assistant Professor

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives

Portland, Oregon


[i] Gaines, Barbara Conway, Oregon Health Sciences University School of Nursing: a history of the school, 1910-1996; Portland, Or.: Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing, 2002

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