One of the advantages to the UConn School of Nursing of having the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History is its ready availability for faculty and students on campus.

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Jo Dolan’s and founding dean Carolyn Ladd Widmer’s long-standing commitment to grounding students’ clinical expertise in the knowledge of nursing’s history has been embedded in the curriculum from its inception, with a survey of nursing history.  Once taught as a first-year nursing history and theory course, today it is placed as one of the capstone courses in seniors’ final semester.

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But how to make the Dolan Collection accessible in a guided, directed way, especially to undergraduates?

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Associate Professor in Residence Thomas Lawrence Long, curator of the Dolan Collection and instructor of the nursing history course (Nursing’s Past as Prologue) met that challenge during the spring 2016 term by assigning each student an artifact, document, photograph or other ephemera from the collection, both items stored in Storrs Hall and those in the University’s Archives and Special Collections.

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Early in the semester, students spent one class session examining the object assigned to them using a rubric developed by the American Studies Association Material Culture Caucus, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object.

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In addition to seeking answers to questions about nursing’s material culture, students were also prepared to search relevant published literature related to those objects, conducted by Valori Banfi, nursing librarian.

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All of this data collection was preliminary to each student writing a blog post on the object assigned to them, which they submitted for a grade.

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In the months to come, you will be able to read the product of their work, with two blog posts per week published here.