The 20th Century: 1930-1939


Duke University Hospital begins a three-year nursing diploma program. Nursing students may earn a baccalaureate degree by taking two additional years of general education courses at Duke University.  Duke University School of Nursing offers advanced training in anesthesia, the first nurse anesthesia program in North Carolina.

In 1931 the Duke Endowment studied hospital schools of nursing in hospitals that averaged fewer than 20 patients a day.  They found that those schools were unable to provide a professional education for nurses and that nursing students were sometimes used for cheap labor.

Newspaper Clippings from 1931


NC Board or Nursing published guidelines for Schools of Nursing.

J.A. Tinsley wrote a very interesting article:  A Study of Maternal and Child Welfare Work in North Carolina published in the J Natl Med Assoc. 1932 Jan-Mar; 24(1): 13–15.

The New Deal, 1933

The federal government’s response to the human suffering experienced during the Great Depression, called the New Deal, included funding public health nursing programs. In NC the number of public health nurses increased from 65 in 1933 to 297 in 1940. These new nurses, using funds from the WPA, ERA and the Social Security Act performed many valuable functions including inspection and referral of school children, home health care and immunization clinics for thousands of North Carolinians during this time. The benefits of public health nursing were evident to all

Newspaper Clippings from 1933


Many "New Deal" agencies funded nurses in NC during the Great Depression. 

Margaret Dolan was born in Lillington, NC. She went on to chair the Department of Nursing at the UNC School of Public Health, and serve as President of the NCSNA (1957-1959), the American Journal of Nursing Company (1960), American Nurse Association (1962-64), National Health Council (1969-1970), and the American Public Health Association (1973 until her death that year).

1935 program of the annual meeting of the NC State Colored Nurse Assoc.

Tarheel Nurse magazine of the NC Nurse Association begins publication, and reflects on how the Great Depression affected nursing in North Carolina.

Learn More: School Nursing

School nursing programs were introduced in New York City in 1902. Afterward, several municipal school and health districts, particularly in the Northeast and the West, began their own school nursing services (Rogers, 1917). In other areas of the country, particularly the Southeast, school nursing remained an under-developed area of nursing practice. In each location, it developed uniquely, responding to local personalities, political considerations and community needs. By the early 1930's the Great Depression and the Federal response known as the New Deal began to change the provincial nature of school nursing services.

  • Pollitt, P. & Reese, C. (1997). School Nursing In North Carolina: From A New Idea To The New Deal (Part 1). American History of Nursing Bulletin, Summer, 6-8. Re-print available on NCDocks.


North Carolina became the first state to offer family planning/birth control services through its public health agencies and to permit public health nurses to advise clients about methods of contraception. Frances R. Pratt, RN was hired by the NC Board of Health to organize and oversee the program.

Newspaper Clippings from 1937


The North Carolina State Nurses Association (NCSNA) opened its first state headquarters in Raleigh. Nurse Edna Heinzerling was appointed the first Executive Secretary of the organization.

Newspaper Clippings from 1939

  • 1939, Oct 19. Nurse Praises Program in N.C. The Charlotte Observer, p.10. Charlotte, North Carolina. Nurse Frances Pratt spoke at the American Public Health Association convention about North Carolina's contributions to public health.