Jo Ann Ashley 1939-1980

# 2 “Inspiration for Activism”

  • Leading voice in nursing for 2nd wave feminism
  • Author of landmark book “Hospitals, Paternalism and the Role of the

    Jo Ann Ashley

    Nurse” uncovering the history of gender and class bias in healthcare

  • Advocate for nurses to claim the right to control our own practice, to demand safe working conditions, to practice to the full extent of our education, and to fight for economic justice.

More information:

Jo Ann Ashley papers, 1942-1980. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018, from

Kagan, P. N. (2006). Jo Ann Ashley 30 years later: legacy for practice. Nursing Science Quarterly, 19(4), 317–327.

Wolf, K. (Ed.). (1997). Jo Ann Ashley: Selected Readings. Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from

View Video

On September 2, 1976, WNED public television in Buffalo, New York, produced a segment as part of their “Woman” Series titled “New Image for Nurses: Part 1“. This episode featured a conversation with Jo Ann Ashley, Ph. D., June Rothberg, Ph.D.,  and Jean Spero, Ph.D.Dr. Ashley was an Associate Professor of Nursing at Northern Illinois University. She was also on the board of trustees of NCAP (Nurses Coalition for Action in Politics) at the time of the interview. Dr. Rothberg was Dean of the School of Nursing at Adelphi University. She was a co-founder of NCAP and the immediate past president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Dr. Spero was Dean of the School of Nursing at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She was Chair of the Board of Review of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs of the National League for Nursing.

The video portrays Jo Ann’s fiesty and courageous personality!  She was fearless in speaking the truth. The archive video is available here. 

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

# 1 “Inspiration for Activism”

  • Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, known by her self-given name of

    Sojourner Truth

    Sojourner Truth

  • Abolitionist and women’s rights activist
  • Best known for her “Ain’t *I a woman” speech, demanding equal human rights for women as well as for black people
  • Strove to improve cleanliness and quality of care at Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington, D.C.
  • Advocated for formal nursing education, even though she herself never had that opportunity

For more information click here and here

Nurses who inspire our activism!

Leading up to our July 30-31 Nursing Activism Think Tank, we are planning a series of blog posts featuring nurse activists – historical or contemporary figures, some well-known and others not so well-known, whose record of activism serves as inspiration for all of us going forward.  You can be part of this project, whether you attend the July gathering or not!  Please send us the details using our online form, and we will make sure to post this information as part of this series!

Watch for the first post in the series on Wednesday February 14th!

If you missed the post about the gathering in July, you can always find the link in the “Blog Home” submenu, and in the right sidebar on any page on this site, along with other pages and forms related to this event!

Invitation: Nursing Activism Think Tank!

Interest Form

Event: A NurseManifest Think Tank organized by Peggy Chinn,  Adeline Falk-Rafael, and Sue Hagedorn. Dates: July 30-31, 2018

We are very excited to invite you to participate in a Nursing Activism Think Tank – a gathering of nurses who have a passion for action that brings nursing values to the center, creates change to realize social justice in nursing, healthcare, and the populations we serve, and builds networks of support for activism in nursing at every level.  Our specific goal is very broad – to brainstorm what might be possible, and follow those possibilities wherever they might lead.  

We are concerned that although we have a strong legacy in nursing of significant activism, in today’s environment there is very little support for nurses who feel an urgency to address grassroots problems.  A few examples –

  • Lack of networks of support for those who take risks in the public arena, who might run for public office, who recognize situations where urgent change is needed, and eventually become discouraged and abandon nursing altogether.
  • Lack of educational opportunities that nurture nursing activism, and even devalue activism (such as negative attitudes toward unions, lack of learning activities focused on serving disenfranchised populations)
  • Lack of education and certification avenues to prepare for nursing roles to promote social justice in nursing and healthcare.
  • Still-present oppressive environments in many workplaces where nursing priorities, voices and actions are not valued.

We want to be part of changing these circumstances, and so we are reaching out to other nurses to support one another in making change. We envision a small group, but we do not want to limit participation. We simply ask that all who come are eager, passionate and ready to join others in a cooperative spirit of solidarity to engage with activism in nursing.  If you know someone who shares your ideas and vision who might also want to come along, they are welcome to also participate (each person needs to complete an Interest Form – details below).

We envision a two-day gathering with a very flexible structure – building on each person’s stories that reflect passion, commitment and visions for social activism. We are asking each participant to bring a photograph or object around which to explore your personal story, from which we will build visions for future possibilities. The first day of our gathering will focus on developing our stories – a process that will be facilitated by staff from the Nurstory Project. The stories can be used eventually to develop a digital story, which will be introduced as part of the process. The next whole day will focus on developing our visions as a group. Throughout, we anticipate some time looking back at the work of nurses who have created the legacy of nursing activism – a legacy that can inspire what we envision today.

Here are the details:

Dates: all day, July 30-31, 2018. If you are traveling from a distant location, you will need to arrive late in the afternoon July 29th. The Think Tank gathering will begin at 9 am on Monday morning. Departure can be as early as late afternoon on July 31st, but staying the evening will extend the time for networking and developing ongoing relationships!

Location: University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing The nearby Campus Center has several options for food, meeting rooms and parking; and the hotel is also contained within the Center.  

Lodging:  We anticipate staying at the  Hotel UMass, located in the Amherst Campus Center, 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003.  Phone: 866-238-4218. For reservations, call or go online:  The rate is $149 per night, plus tax and recovery fees, prepaid.  You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of your booking for a full refund; after the 24 hour advance time, you are charged for 1 night plus tax and fees

Cost: There is no registration cost involved. We are exploring possibilities for funding to help support travel and lodging expenses, but you may need to cover all of your own expenses for travel, lodging and meals.  If you can only participate if there is funding, please let us know (the interest form has a place for this!)

Travel and transportation:  If you fly, the closest airport is Hartford/Springfield Bradley (1 hour drive to Campus Center). Boston Logan is also an option (2 hour drive to Campus Center). For those who fly, we will help work out shared transportation to the campus as needed.  If you drive, parking at the campus center is convenient and easy to locate.

What to bring:  Bring a photograph (2 or 3 if you wish) or an object from which to develop your story that conveys your passions and concerns related to activism in nursing. Don’t worry if the story itself is not clear in your mind – that will happen as part of the experience!

It will be summer in Western Massachusetts – but the Campus Center is air conditioned – so plan on layers for inside and casual outdoor summer clothing! There will be no “dress up” occasions!

Need more information?  Just ask!  Use our contact form for the Nursing Activism Think Tank

Seriously Interested?  Fill out our online Interest FormWe will confirm your registration within a few days, and will make sure you receive announcements and further information along the way!


Power of Words

Recently a blog post appeared on the American Journal of Nursing’s blog “Off the Charts” by Juliana Paradisi titled “Comforting Our Patients: The Importance of Well-Chosen Words.”  Her message is right on track, and deserves not only reading, but reflecting on the many ways that the words we use – both personally and professionally – profoundly effect every aspect of our lives.

One of the most important messages in Paradisi’s post is the importance of practice – something that also appears my work with Maeona Kramer on the development of aesthetic knowing (see chapter 6 in the 10th Edition).  There we call this “rehearsal” and describe how important it is for nurses to envision and rehearse both the words and movements that form aesthetic nursing practice. One way to do this is the share a story recounting what happened in a particular situation – particularly a situation that did not go so well.  Then imagine different ways the scenario might have played out, discussing alternative story lines and endings and rehearsing them with your peers.

The importance of words also comes into play in “peace and power” processes, particularly the process of critical reflection – a process that emphasizes not only what we say but how we say it. Critical reflection also requires practice – practice that can happen in real time, in every day situations once you mentally prepare to do it!  You use critical reflection to let people around you know that you are having second thoughts, or ideas about a situation, and when something happens that brings forth negative feelings and conflict.  Here is how you present your reflection:

  • I feel … focus on your own feelings without blaming others
  • When (or about) … describe factually what happened when your feelings came to the surface.
  • I want .. describe what you envision happening next, even if it seems impossible to happen.
  • Because … name the value that you share with those around you – your shared hopes, intentions, desires.

Those of us who have practiced this kind of reflection and have used it for even the most simple of challenges (someone leaves a mess around the house, someone is always late, etc.) knows the power of using words in this way!

I welcome other ideas and thoughts – even sharing your ideas here is a way to practice!  In this time when words that harm are used so freely and publicly, I believe that as nurses we can change the world – by simply learning and practicing how to use our words to heal, to comfort, the bring about peace!