Links: University Libraries, Contact Special Collections

Nursing School at UNLV: 50 years ago and today, by Lindsay Oden

By Special Collections & Archives Technical Services on August 2, 2017 3:26 PM | Permalink

This recruiting brochure for the School of Nursing dates from the early days of the program, circa 1969. University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing Records, 1950-2015. UA-00011. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The Zeta Kappa Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau awarded UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives funding to support efforts in making the School of Nursing records and oral histories available for research. The materials include records from the nursing school's Alumni Association, recruitment materials from the School of Nursing, history of the School of Nursing, and accreditation information. During processing of this collection, I uncovered not just records from the school’s inception (1965), but also artifacts that show the changing social expectations for how nurses (and nursing students) were expected to dress.

Early photographs and news clippings in the collection show women in uniforms that were collared dresses with short sleeves, caps, and long stockings. Some of these photos appear to show that even when students were in the classroom, they were dressed in these uniforms. The collection also includes artifacts from the 1950s and 1960s such as a faculty member’s lab coat, a nurse’s wool cape, a cap, and a student’s uniform, which also demonstrate that nurses--particularly women--were expected to dress a particular way both in the classroom and in clinical settings.

 Archivist Hannah Robinson modeling a nurse’s cape and cap that dates from the 1950s.

Archivist Hannah Robinson modeling a nurse’s cape and cap that dates from the 1950s.

Also present in the collection are more modern pieces of clothing that you would expect to see a student wearing today. A golf visor from the School of Nursing and a polo shirt show how attitudes towards both professional women and students have shifted dramatically, allowing for a much greater freedom for how women are allowed to dress.

Archivist Hannah Robinson modeling a UNLV School of Nursing polo shirt and golf visor from the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Archivist Hannah Robinson modeling a UNLV School of Nursing polo shirt and golf visor from the late 1990s or early 2000s.

The nursing program at Nevada Southern University (NSU)--which was later renamed the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1969--grew alongside the Las Vegas community. A nursing shortage in 1962, caused by rapid population growth in the Las Vegas Valley and Nevada more generally, prompted the legislature to increase the number of nursing education programs in the state. The first nursing students were admitted to NSU’s program in 1965. Later, in 2001, another nursing shortage prompted the legislature to mandate the School of Nursing double its enrollment. And as healthcare needs in Southern Nevada continue to grow, UNLV’s School of Nursing remains one of the most important programs in the region.

News clipping about the first nurses who graduated from Nevada Southern University (now called the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) in 1967.

News clipping about the first nurses who graduated from Nevada Southern University (now called the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) in 1967. University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing Records, 1950-2015. UA-00011. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Special Collections & Archives invites people who are interested in the history of the School of Nursing, health care in Southern Nevada, career advancement of women in the late-twentieth century, or how the School of Nursing grew alongside UNLV, to explore the records in person at Lied Library. A description of the collection is available online: Guide to the UNLV School of Nursing Records. Through these records, you can learn about women’s history, career opportunities for women, and the myriad ways the program has grown over the years to accommodate the changing economic and social circumstances of the Las Vegas area.

A telegram from Las Vegas based doctors Parvin Modaber Jacobs and Theodore Jacobs congratulates the first class of graduating nurses at Nevada Southern University (now the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) in 1967.

Telegram from Las Vegas based doctors Parvin Modaber Jacobs and Theodore Jacobs congratulates the first class of graduating nurses at Nevada Southern University (now the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) in 1967. University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing Records, 1950-2015. UA-00011. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.