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South Carolina Nurses Association records

Identifier: L1977-37

Scope and Content of the Records

Minutes and proceedings, correspondence, reports, constitutions and bylaws, printed material including newsletters and ephemera, notes and writings, financial records, legal documents, scrapbooks, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, works of art on paper, and artifacts, make up the records of the South Carolina Nurses Association 1897; 1907-1992. The bulk of the material was created or received by the Executive Office, but reflects all aspects of the organization, including its annual meeting and House of Delegates, the Board of Directors and other executive units, the districts, various structural units, and the collaboration of SCNA with other organizations. In addition, the records include materials created by individual members and officers, by employees or officers of programs and organizations chartered by SCNA, and the organizational records of other nursing groups.

The records reflect the fulfillment of SCNA's core functions, including assisting members, acting as a voice for nurses in the legislative process, and explaining to the public the role of the professional nurse. In addition, the records show that, at different stages of its history, SCNA has provided continuing education, prepared nurses for times of war, created reports and published newsletters, provided an employment service, organized nurses in the workplace, assisted in the planning of nursing education at the statewide level, bestowed awards and scholarships, provided assistance to nurses with personal and substance problems, and sponsored a registry for private-duty nurses.

The South Carolina Nurses Association records also show the close ties between the organization and various other groups and governmental agencies in the state. Files include records from SCNA's representatives to numerous state boards and commissions over the years, including the Board of Health, later part of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the Statewide Master Planning Committee on Nursing Education. The oldest nursing association in the state, SCNA has had relationships with the other nursing organizations that followed it. Records show SCNA's occasional collaborations, including joint board meetings with other organizations and the South Carolina Forum on Nursing. Additionally, for many years, SCNA's annual meeting was held concurrently with that of other nursing organizations, including the South Carolina State League of Nursing Education, South Carolina State Organization for Public Health Nursing, South Carolina League for Nursing, South Carolina State Industrial Nurses, and Student Nurses Association of South Carolina. In addition to material regarding SCNA's work with these other groups, the records include organizational files of the South Carolina State League of Nursing Education/South Carolina League for Nursing (1939-1955), which was sponsored by SCNA early in its history; the Student Nurses Association of South Carolina (1950-1985); the Charleston Public Health Nursing Association (1921-1923); and the Practical Nurses Association of South Carolina, Inc. (1951-1970).

As a constituent association of the American Nurses Association, SCNA has always maintained close contact with the national association. In addition to routine membership maintenance correspondence and reports, the records include materials from ANA conventions, conferences and workshops, as well as communication from the national organization about ethical, legal, policy, and other issues. Like the other state organizations, SCNA often followed ANA's lead in defining its mission and programs, as when it initiated Continuing Education Approval Program in the early 1970s. The records also include proceedings and files related to the Southern Division of ANA (1929-1949), one of the regional groups that ANA sanctioned in that period, and documentation of SCNA's communication with the other state associations.

The South Carolina Nurses Association records show the evolution of the nursing profession especially through the records of the various interest groups. Nursing practice is treated in some of the training materials, and the historical materials include lecture notes (1911?), documentation of very early certification exams for Registered Nurses (1913-1917), and the papers of a public health nurse (1922-1938).


  • Creation: 1897, 1907-1992


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use. Access to sound recordings and motion pictures is restricted. Access to certain records containing personal information is restricted (noted on 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.

Portions of the collection were damaged by water and mold.

History of the South Carolina Nurses Association

The South Carolina Nurses Association (SCNA), founded in 1907, is a professional organization devoted to promoting high standards for nurses, to encouraging their advancement and welfare, and to improving health care generally. SCNA has been a constituent association of the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1911. Registered nurses join local districts of SCNA, making them full members of SCNA and ANA, represented in the House of Delegates of each. Membership in an SCNA district provides a nurse with a voice on policy, legislative, and economic issues related to nursing and health care in South Carolina, the United States, and internationally, through ANA's participation in the International Council of Nurses. (Originally called the South Carolina Nurses State Association, the organization obtained its state charter in 1932 as the South Carolina Graduate Nurses Association. In 1944, it took a new name, the South Carolina State Nurses Association, and has been known as the South Carolina Nurses Association since 1965.)

The small group of nurse alumnae that met in Columbia in 1907 did so in order to perfect a permanent organization devoted to achieving registration of those nurses who had graduated from reputable schools in the state. Accordingly, at that first meeting, the South Carolina nurses reviewed a model nurse registration bill. They sent a committee to lobby the legislature in 1909, and saw the South Carolina Nurse Practice Act, which empowered the State Board of Medical Examiners to examine and register graduate nurses, pass in 1910. Working with legislators in order to affect South Carolina's nursing and health care laws has remained a central function of SCNA. After years of effort, SCNA saw the legislature create a separate State Board of Nursing in 1935. In 1947, provisions for license renewal and the licensing of practical nurses passed, followed in 1969 by a mandatory licensing act. Today, the Board also licenses Advanced Practice Nurses. SCNA has remained closely involved with the Board, and with other state organizations and agencies involved with nursing and health care in South Carolina.

Founded by 22 nurses, SCNA had about 1200 members in 2004. For years, the general membership voted on matters of policy and management at SCNA's annual meeting. In 1972, SCNA instituted its House of Delegates, a voting body made up of representatives from the districts, which deliberates and makes decisions at the convention. The House of Delegates assures that all members are represented in votes, not merely those who can make the trip to the meeting. As the complexity of the profession and health care generally have increased, so has specialization. Originally, the majority of SCNA members trained in hospitals, but today the association meets the needs of not only of college-educated registered nurses, but nurses who have earned advanced degrees and work in roles beyond that of an RN. Though student nurses are not part of the ANA-constituent association structure, a South Carolina branch of the National Student Nurses Association (Student Nurses Association of South Carolina, or SNASC) began in 1949. SCNA provides an advisor to the SNASC and permits the group’s officers to attend SCNA Board of Directors meetings. SCNA has become more diverse in other ways. Prior to January 1, 1954, South Carolina's African-American nurses could not join SCNA. Many belonged to a separate organization, the Palmetto State Nurses Association, with which SCNA occasionally collaborated starting in the mid-1930s. From the 1960s onward, the proportion of men in the association has increased, and a male nurse was elected SCNA president in 1999.

In addition to the president and officers, SCNA members elect the association's directors. Through their district presidents, members are also represented in the District Assembly. The officers, directors, representatives of the District Assembly and of other organizational units, make up the Board of Directors, which manages the organization between conventions. In 1965, SCNA created a smaller Executive Committee, to transact business between Board meetings. Later, it also became the association's personnel committee. SCNA originated as a wholly voluntary organization. In 1935, after the creation of the State Board of Nursing, the organization hired a part-time manager, who worked half-time as SCNA's Executive Secretary and half-time as Executive Secretary and Education Advisor for the Board . SCNA's first full-time Executive Secretary (later Executive Director) began work in 1947. In 1968, the organization, which had previously rented offices in Columbia, constructed a permanent building in the capital for its offices.

Originally, the state nursing organizations were drawn from local alumnae groups and lacked geographical districts, but ANA instituted the three-tier (district-state-national) membership structure in 1917. SCNA formed 5 districts in 1919, though the new First District, based in Charleston, had existed as a local group since 1915. Districts have their own elected leadership and committees, and some had occupational interest groups. For many years, District I and Columbia-based District III both operated registry services for private-duty nurses, separately administered units with their paid employees. Redistricting in 1936-1937 created seven districts. District VIII was created in 1952 and Districts IX-XI in 1957. By 1967, District X was already defunct and District XII had been added. That year, because the eleven districts were uneven in membership and geography, their presidents requested that a committee study district boundaries. A new plan divided the state into ten districts, designated by names and numbers, which became active January 1, 1971. In 2005, SCNA had nine districts (named and designated 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9-12, because of reorganization since 1971).

Over its history, SCNA has developed a complex organizational structure mirroring the evolution of ANA. As early as 1908, the organization had a Legislative Committee, followed by a Committee on Credentials in 1909. By 1911, SCNA had Committees on Bylaws, Convention Arrangements, Publications, and Nominations. For many years, these committees, and later Finance, Membership, and Public Relations, developed and advanced the policies of the organization. Other committees, some ad hoc or special, studied issues, suggested policy, and performed special functions, such as planning when SCNA redistricted, or working for or against a specific piece of legislation. The Committee on Nursing Professional Practice, established in 1959, developed to monitor and affect training and credentialing in the state. In 1961, an Economic Security, later Economic and General Welfare (E&GW), Committee was created, dedicated to improving nurses' salaries and working conditions. The committee initiated the Economic Security Program (ESP) in 1969, which assisted nurses in organizing and, occasionally, collective bargaining. The program had its own part-time employee.

In 1936, SCNA created its first sections, voluntary groups organized around occupational specialty. Longstanding examples include Educational Administrators, Consultants, and Teachers (EACT); General Duty Nurses; Nursing Service Administrators (NSA); Office Nurses; Private Duty Nurses; and Public Health Nurses. The sections promoted employment standards and organizing programs at meetings. The Private Duty Section was instrumental in achieving South Carolina's first 8-hour day for nurses, and in 1940, the Educational Section became a separate entity, the South Carolina League for Nursing Education (reorganized as the South Carolina League for Nursing in 1953). Later occupational groups, known as Conference Groups, Councils, or Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have been dedicated to increasing professionalism in a specific area of practice through continuing education and promotion of standards. Interest groups established in the 1970s include Medical/Surgical Nursing, Maternal/Child Health Nursing, Gerontological Nursing, and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing.

In 1971, membership voted to reorganize SCNA by creating councils, bodies responsible for fulfilling the organization's broad functions and coordinating the work of other organizational units. Representatives of committees, interest groups, and other structural units made up the councils. Originally, the Councils were the Council on Practice, which oversaw training and standards for areas of nursing practice through its subunits the Conference Groups; the Council on Economic and General Welfare, involved with workplace issues through the existing sections and the E&GW program; and the Council on Education, composed of Forums, organized by educational level. SCNA has retained this basic organizational structure through several reorganizations (the councils were renamed Cabinets, and later Commissions), and as the focus of the association has changed. For example, SCNA ended its involvement with labor organizing, but, like other constituent associations of ANA, has developed programs to assist nurses with other workplace issues including substance abuse, and in the middle 1970s initiated a program to certify providers of continuing education. Like ANA, SCNA has become more politically engaged, creating a political action committee, and, for a time, having an official platform. The South Carolina Nurses Association enters its second century as the leading advocate for professional nurses in the state.


186.2 Linear Feet (in 420 boxes)

Language of Materials



The South Carolina Nurses Association, founded in 1907, is a professional organization devoted to promoting high standards for nurses, to encouraging their advancement and welfare, and to improving health care generally. Its records include minutes and proceedings, correspondence, reports, constitutions and by-laws, printed material, notes and writings, financial records, legal documents, scrapbooks, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, works of art on paper, and artifacts, which document the association, its local districts, and other nursing organizations in South Carolina.


Organized in ten series:

  • I. Annual meetings, 1907-1976, 1978, 1980, 1982-1992
  • II. Board of Directors/Executive Committee/Advisory Council meetings, 1926-1929, [1931]-1961, 1963-1988
  • III. Constitutions and bylaws, 1919, 1922, 1932, 1938, 1961, 1965, 1967, 1971
  • IV. Districts, 1915-1985
  • V. Structural units, projects and related organizations, joint bodies, 1944-1990
  • VI. Executive Director/Office files, 1921-1991
  • VII. Other organizations, 1942, 1947, 1949-1978, 1981-1986
  • VIII. Publications and collected printed material, 1920-1928, 1934-1987
  • IX. Historical collections, 1910-1976
  • X. Photographs, sound recordings, and motion pictures, 1897, 1916, [1932?], 1947-1957, 1959-1963, 1965-1970, 1972-1977, 1979-1985

Acquisition Information

Donated by South Carolina Nurses Association in 1977 and 1994 [accessions L1977-37, L1994-03]; by Lower Savannah District Nurses Association (South Carolina Nurses Association District 5), via Sharon R. Epps [L1978-22]; by Central Midlands District Nurses Association (South Carolina Nurses Association District 4) [L1978-28]; by Trident District Nurses Association (South Carolina Nurses Association District 9), via Cecelia Muirhead [L1980-38].

Separated Materials

During processing of SCNA Trident District Nurses Association (District 9) records in 1980, periodicals were separated to the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection and constitutions were separated to the Southern Labor Archives Constitutions and By-Laws Collection. For periodicals, see the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection finding aid or catalog. For bylaws consult Special Collections for access.

Separated to the Southern Labor Archives Constitutions and ByLaws Collection

  1. SCNA District 9, 1972-1975
  2. SCNA, 1976

Separated to the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. Memo to Members (SCNA), volume 1, May 31, 1972
  2. The Triangle Informer (SCNA, District 9), 1972-1978

Processing Information

Processed by Southern Nursing Associations Records Project Staff with funds provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, 2004-2006.

Southern Labor Archives staff arranged Central Midlands District records (except president's files, which arrived as part of accession L1994-03) and Lower Savannah District Nurses Association records after accession in 1978. Alice Gernazian processed the Trident District Nurses Association records in October 1980.

South Carolina Nurses Association:
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University
Georgia State University Library
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)