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Georgia Nurses' Association records

Identifier: L1976-39

Scope and Content of the Georgia Nurses' Association Records

Minutes and proceedings, correspondence, reports, constitutions, bylaws, articles of incorporation, printed material, notes, financial records, scrapbooks, legal documents, photographs, sound recordings, and artifacts make up the records of the Georgia Nurses' Association 1903-1994. The bulk of the material was generated by the executive officer and executive office or by the executive Committee and executive board. However, the records reflect all aspects of the organization, including annual meetings and activities of the districts, sections and conference groups, and other structural units. The collaborative relationships between GNA and other health related organizations in Georgia are also documented in these records. In addition, the records also document GNA's involvement in many other historical events and movements, including the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the various wars of the twentieth century, unionization and collective bargaining, and many others.

GNA's records reflect its members' striving to accomplish the core functions of the organization, including assisting individual members, acting as a representative for Georgia nurses in the legislature, and explaining to the general public the role of the registered professional nurse. The records also show that throughout its history GNA has provided continuing education for nurses, participated in wartime preparation, published newsletters, provided group liability insurance for registered nurses, assisted in statewide planning for nursing education, organized nurses in the workplace, represented registered nurses in collective bargaining activities, sponsored awards and scholarships, provided individual assistance to nurses with substance abuse problems, and sponsored several registries for private duty nurses.

The Georgia Nurses' Association records also document the close working relationships shared by the organization and various other groups and governmental agencies throughout the state. GNA representatives on many state boards, commission, and Committees kept numerous files that are included in the association's records. GNA is the oldest nursing organization in the state of Georgia, and its members were deeply involved in the formation of other nursing groups that followed, including the Board of Examiners for Nurses, the Georgia League for Nursing Education and the Georgia State Organization for Public Health Nursing. In addition to these groups for registered professional nurses, GNA also collaborated with nursing organization for practical nurses, student nurses, and licensed undergraduate nurses. Records show that many prominent GNA members were also prominent members of these organizations and that occasional joint meetings and joint initiatives were pursued by various nursing organizations acting in concert.

GNA's status as a constituent member of the American Nurses' Association has always meant that the two organizations share a close relationship. Routine membership maintenance correspondence and reports has created a large bulk of material, but the records also include material from the ANA biennial conventions, ANA conferences and workshops, and correspondence pertaining to many other nursing issues including ethical and legal concerns, collective bargaining, economic security, policy, and many other issues. GNA's organization and core missions tended to reflect the national organisation's goals, as when the Economic and General Welfare program was instituted in the late 1960s. The records also include proceedings and files from the Southern Division of ANA, one of the regional groups sanctioned by ANA in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

The Georgia Nurses' Association Records show the evolutions of the nursing profession in Georgia, especially through the records pertaining to registration and education. Nursing practice is treated in training materials and sample curricula from nursing schools, and the records of the Board of Examiners include a very early registration/certification examination for nurses (1910) and much later clinical examinations (1994).


  • Creation: 1903-1998


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use. Access to certain records containing personal information is restricted. All restrictions are noted in the inventory.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

Access to sound recordings and motion pictures is restricted for preservation purposes.

History of the Georgia Nurses' Association

The Georgia Nurses' Association (GNA) was founded in 1907 as a professional organization to unite nurses in Georgia, to advocate for high standards for nurses and nursing education, and to improve patient care. In 1902, seventeen nurses formed a precursor organization, the Graduate Nurses' Association of Augusta, with the intention of becoming charter members of a state nurses' association. This group and other nurses realized this intention in 1907 when the Georgia State Association of Graduate Nurses was chartered. When the charter was renewed in 1927, the name of the organization was changed to the Georgia State Nurses' Association; since the 1970s the group has simply been the Georgia Nurses' Association. GNA has been a constituent of the American Nurses' Association (ANA) since 1908. Individual registered nurses join ANA through their local districts of GNA. GNA members have a voice in state, national, and international concerns through representation on the state House of Delegates, the national House of Delegates, and ANA's representation in the International Council of Nurses.

The main objectives of the association in its early days were "to procure State registration, to elevate and maintain the standard of nursing, to protect the public, and to promote good fellowship among all nurses." On May 17, 1907, the nurses adopted a registration bill that was passed by the Georgia General Assembly that same year. The bill provided for the creation of a Board of Nurse Examiners whose members would be nominated by the association and appointed by the Governor. This board had the power to examine and register nurses who were of good moral character, 21 years old, and who had graduated from suitable nursing schools. The Medical Association of Georgia lobbied against the bill and introduced amendments that would have kept doctors in control of the board, but the nurses objected to these amendments and managed to have the bill passed without major revisions. In 1927 an amendment to the original registration act made registration for nurses mandatory in the state of Georgia. Even after the nurses achieved their goal of state registration, GNA remained heavily involved in lobbying for nursing legislation. Over the years, GNA has supported many legislative initiatives, including measures involving licensed practical nurses, drug abuse, prescriptive authority for nurses, and organized labor.

The organization in 1907 had a fairly simple structure. The governing body of GNA was the executive board, which consisted of the organization’s officers and the chairs of the five standing Committees. As the organization grew, the make-up of the executive board gradually changed to reflect GNA's growing complexity. Originally, members were recruited from nursing school alumnae groups and GNA did not have any further local divisions. In 1919, however, four districts were established, and the district presidents became members of the executive board. The number of districts fluctuated wildly; they were reorganized in 1928, more districts were added in 1929, and in 1930 the districts were numbered according to congressional districts as much as was possible. The chairs of the standing Committees (by 1929 the original five had expanded to twelve) were removed from the board sometime in the 1920s and replaced with four "counsellors" (later directors) who were elected at the annual meetings. This general structure for the executive board persisted, although membership on the board varied greatly over the years. By 1967, as the organization grew in complexity, an executive Committee had been instituted to conduct business between executive board meetings. The executive Committee was also responsible for hiring the executive officer and secretarial staff for the GNA office.

As the nursing profession became more complex, so too did the organization representing professional nurses in Georgia. GNA sponsored or collaborated with other nursing organizations that arose to serve the needs of nurses in specialized fields, including the Georgia State League for Nursing Education, the Georgia State Organization for Public Health Nursing, and the Georgia Association of Industrial Nurses. Internally, too, GNA tried to meet the needs of its ever diversifying nurses. Sections were created to represent nurses in specific fields (educators, administrators, private duty, office nursing, etc.). For a time, nurses who represented GNA at the biennial ANA convention were elected by the sections. Sections also provided clinical workshops and other special services for their members. In time, and as ANA changed its structure, GNA mirrored the changes that occurred on the national level. The sections were supplemented by conference groups and then eliminated altogether, with the conference groups taking over many of the functions the sections had performed earlier. Eventually commissions dealing with various concerns of nursing, including education and economic and general welfare, were organized.

In 1968 Stanley Kravit, who had worked extensively as an organizer in New Jersey, came to Georgia as the ANA Economic and General Welfare Consultant to the GNA. Kravit immediately began organizing nurses into local units with the goal of getting recognition for GNA to perform collective bargaining, with limited success. Although the Veterans' Administration hospitals all were involved in collective bargaining with nurses (thanks to an executive order), other hospital administrations and health authorities were not receptive to the idea. In early 1969 roughly 100 nurses at Dekalb General Hospital, members of the Dekalb General Hospital local unit, resigned in protest when the hospital administrator refused to enter into collective bargaining with GNA. The struggle between the nurses and the hospital is documented in Stanley Kravit's files (Series IX, Subseries B) and in the files of the Dekalb General Hospital local unit (Series IX, Subseries D).

Stanley Kravit was reassigned in late 1969, and GNA hired Robert Hice to continue to work on economic and general welfare issues. Hice introduced the new approach project, changing the local units into local chapters of the GNA. He argued that hospital administrators and other medical professionals were more likely to negotiate with the nurses as professionals rather than the nurses as members of a labor union, which was how earlier efforts at collective bargaining had been perceived. His files (Series IX, Subseries C) document the development and implementation of this new approach project.

During this period the membership of GNA was not only diversifying but also increasing. This growing membership also necessitated changes in the way GNA conducted its business. The organization was founded by a group of thirty-five nurses; by 2006 the number of members had grown to 2200. During the first seventy years of the organisation's existence, all members in good standing were entitled to vote during the annual meetings. With the growth in membership, however, GNA in the late 1970s switched to a House of Delegates structure. Each district elected delegates to be representatives at the state annual meeting and to vote on behalf of that district's members.

GNA's history also reflects many of the broader issues of concern in the South and in the United States. During both World War I and World War II, GNA was involved in recruiting and organizing nurses both for civilian and military duty. Many of GNA's prominent members were actively involved with the American Red Cross. One member, Jane van de Vrede, was the Director of the Southern Division of the American Red Cross during and immediately after the First World War; she was also a tireless advocate for black nurses, who were not allowed to join the GNA until the late 1960s. GNA also became more active politically over time, voting on a platform and instituting a political action Committee. While this Committee lobbied for and against bills that were directly applicable to nursing, it also advocated for many other bills that were not truly relevant to nursing but did reflect the overall philosophy and platform of the organization.


167.7 Linear Feet (in 340 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Georgia Nurses' Association (GNA) was founded in 1907 as a professional organization to unite nurses in Georgia, to advocate for high standards for nurses and nursing education, and to improve patient care. Minutes and proceedings, correspondence, reports, constitutions, bylaws, articles of incorporation, printed material, notes, financial records, scrapbooks, legal documents, photographs, sound recordings, and artifacts make up the records of the Georgia Nurses' Association and document the associations activities, its districts, and other national and state nursing organizations.

Organization of the records

The records are arranged into thirteen series:

  1. Series I: Executive Committee, Executive Board/Annual Business meeting minutes, 1907-1984
  2. Series II: Constitutions and Bylaws, 1919-1984, 1998
  3. Series III: Executive Officer/Executive Office files, 1907-1989, 1994
  4. Series IV: Committees and Councils, 1919, 1927-1987
  5. Series V: Sections and Conference Groups, 1926-1930, 1935-1976, 1982
  6. Series VI: Districts (excluding Fifth District), 1912-1976
  7. Series VII: Fifth District, 1913-1991
  8. Series VIII: Refresher Training Program, 1967-1970
  9. Series IX: Economic and General Welfare, 1954-1978
  10. Series X: Allied Organizations, 1917-1985
  11. Series XI: Published Material, 1926-1994
  12. Series XII: Historical Collections, 1903-1957, 1967-1971, 1976
  13. Series XIII: Artifacts, Photographs, and Sound Recordings, 1912, 1929-1984

Acquisition Information

Donated by Georgia Nurses' Association in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1994 [accessions L1976-39, L1977-17, L1977-23, L1977-31, L1977-38, L1979-26, L1980-31, L1994-12]

Separated Materials

During earlier processing, printed material and pamphlets related to nursing were separated to the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection finding aid (note that this collection has been weeded over time).; four photographs were separated to the Southern Labor Archives Photographs Collection; and constitutions and by-laws were separated to the Southern Labor Constitutions and Bylaws collection. See List of Separated Material following Detailed Description of the Collection. Consult Special Collections for access.

Processing Information

Processed by Southern Nursing Associations Records Project Staff with funds provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, 2004-2006. All accessions processed at the file level and fully integrated into a single collection guide.

Georgia Nurses Association:
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
May 25, 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)