A medical museum tucked away inside the University of Virginia's McLeod Hall has reached a milestone. It is now the first fully-endowed center at the university.
The Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry chronicles the profession thanks to a philanthropist's passion.
The university celebrated the center's achievement Tuesday afternoon. The museum and research center has a new name and financial support to maintain the story of an old practice.
Barbara Brodie is the caretaker for a place all about the profession of caregiving. "It is my passion to tell the story of nursing," she said.
She collects photos and private papers from retired nurses nationwide. Brodie said, "We beat the garbage man sometimes by one week."
The donated documents total thousands. Cabinets contain trinkets and tools of the trade dating back to the early 1900s.
Brodie and a group from the UVA's School of Nursing began the center for nursing historical inquiry more than 20 years ago. She said, "We are a collector of information about the nursing profession."
Now, the center is named after former Air Force flight nurse Eleanor Crowder Bjoring, who's dedicated her life to telling the story of her profession. "For many, many years nursing history was being thrown away and students had no appreciation of history," she said.
Bjoring's donation guarantees a long future for one of only two centers on nursing history in the United States. The other is at the University of Pennsylvania.
"I didn't want it to be the only one," Bjoring said. "So, knowing what the nurses were doing here, I decided if I was going to help anyone, I was going to help them."
The $1.2 million endowment allows the center to expand its study of international and rural nursing history, and add to the collection.
Dorrie Fontaine, dean of the UVA School of Nursing, said, "Here we are contributing with our nursing knowledge and looking at the past to better inform policy for the future."
Bjoring believes this space will protect the past of the nursing profession and begin to write its future. "It needs to grow," she said.
The center is open to visitors and researchers with advance notice. Click here if you'd like to explore some of its exhibits.
UVA Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry EndowedMore>>