The College of Nursing at Florida State University has a significant history. Recently, Heritage & University Archives received a new accession from the College that illustrates when the College played a key role in being prepared for a nuclear catastrophe on American soil.
The newspaper clipping presented is from the spring of 1961, describing a “disaster drill” in an event of a plane crash and was given to the College by alumna Judith Butler White. White writes that this article describes the beginning of the implementation of the “worst-case scenario” preparation instated by President John F. Kennedy during the Cold War and that the Florida State University nursing students were part of this preparation plan. She recalls that a “Radiation Sign” and a “Location of Campus Assignment” in case of a nuclear disaster, was always hanging on her door in her room in Dorman Hall.
In October 1962, President Kennedy was informed by aircraft spies that Soviet nuclear missiles were placed within Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not only were crisis plans in an event of a nuclear disaster methodically and rapidly developed, the nursing students in the state of Florida were being trained within their programs for emergency care in an event of a nuclear attack within Florida.
Although most of America views the Cuban Missile Crisis as a tragedy that never occurred, White stated that the reality of a nuclear attack was very much a possibility and the State of Florida would have actual drills for its nursing students to aid the masses of victims if such a crisis did occur. In the article, it refers to nursing students collaborating in a “disaster drill” for a plane crash, when in reality they were being prepped for the first nuclear war that the world had ever experienced.
A look at what a student worker has been up to in Special Collections & Archives this summer
My name is Meg Barrett and I started working with Special Collections and Archives at the beginning of the summer. When I found out that I was going to be working on digitally archiving old pictures from the College of Nursing and the French Napoleonic newspaper Le Moniteur, I was ecstatic. I’m currently a sophomore, majoring in Art History and minoring in French, so old photographs and French newspapers are exactly the sort of things that I love.
Because I am working on two different projects, I generally spend the first half of the week in the Research Center Reading Room and the second half in the Digital Library Center (DLC). In the reading room, I go through and catalogue the volumes of Le Moniteur. On my first day, I started with papers from the year 1792, and I finished the summer with papers from the year 1800. I think it’s amazing to be able to say that I’ve gone through over 2,000 newspapers from the 18th century! In the DLC, I have boxes of photographs in file folders, and my job is to scan the pictures onto the computer, type up information about them into a metadata spreadsheet, and then upload them onto DigiNole so that people anywhere can access them. The dates of the photos range from the 1950s to today, and seeing things from pinning ceremony traditions and headshot styles transition from then to now is such an interesting thing.
Working in Special Collections has been such a wonderful experience: what I’ve been doing has been interesting, the people have been so kind and helpful, and I enjoy it every day. When I found out that I got the job a few months ago, I couldn’t believe it. It’s now the end of the summer, and I will continue working on these projects, and I still can’t believe it!
The College of Nursing Collection consists of papers, ephemera, and photographs that document the history and activities of Florida State University’s Collegeof Nursing from its development in 1948 through 2014. The collection includes records from the deans, the graduate nursing program, various faculty committees, student organizations (Student Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau), and the Legacy Project, as well as materials created for special events such as pinning and graduation ceremonies, homecoming events, conferences, and presentations.
In early 1950, Florida’s Board of Control (the predecessor of the Board of Regents) approved the establishment of a School of Nursing at Florida State University and appointed Vivian M Duxbury as the first Dean of the School. By September, the School of Nursing admitted its first students: a group of twenty-five young women. FSU’s SON was only the second collegiate school of nursing to be set up in Florida, with the first at FAMU.
In 1952, the School of Nursing awarded its first degrees to three women students. In the fall, faculty members Agnes Salisbury and Karleen Gillies began teaching the first extension courses in Jacksonville and Miami, respectively. In 1958, the SON became the only nursing school in Florida accredited by the National League for Nursing and was one of less than 100 in the nation.
At first, there was no particular building reserved for the nursing program; offices and classes were held in various buildings around campus. The School of Nursing moved into its new building, Vivian M Duxbury Hall, in the fall of 1975. The most recent milestone in the nursing program’s history is the change of its name from “School” to “College” in the summer of 2006.