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Nursing an Interest in History

The Pauline Laracy Archives of the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador has existed for approximately twenty years. It contains records relating to the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador (ARNNL) and its predecessor organization, the Newfoundland Graduate Nurses' Association (NGNA).

ARNNL celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary in 2004. While the creation of the Archives owes much to the archivists which organized the materials in the Archives, it has had much use during the last year as we retrieved documents relating to the founding and development of ARNNL, and the many nurses and others who were instrumental in its accomplishments.

The Newfoundland Graduate Nurses' Association was founded about 1915 by Mary Southcott, an early leader in nursing in Newfoundland. While the NGNA became inactive in the 1920s, it was reconstituted in 1935, and incorporated under the Company's Act in 1935. From 1937 until 1953 Newfoundland Nurses were registered by the Department of Health. This function was transferred to the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland from January 1, 1954.

ARNNL is housed in a historic building which was originally constructed as a double house about 1850. The House survived the Great Fire of 1892, and has had a remarkable list of owners. Through a series of coincidences we have made an attempt to identify the Nurses and VADs from Newfoundland who served in the First World War, and we have started to collect information on those who served in World War II also. It has been an interesting year as we have learned more about the history of the Association and we are able to communicate this to our current members.

In the early years of the Pauline Laracy Archives the Association benefited greatly from assistance provided by the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives (ANLA) in the form of advice and grants provided through the Canadian Council of Archives. This included grants to reduce the backlog, and a further grant to purchase professional resources for the Archives. In recent years the Association has assumed full responsibility for the funding of the Archives, but we maintain an association with ANLA, and look forward to continuing this association in years to come.

Pat Rahal


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