Nursing Theory: Tribute to Virginia Avernal Henderson, 1897-1996
|Tribute to Virginia Avernal Henderson, 1897-1996 from the
Interagency Council on Information Resources for Nursing (ICIRN)
The greatest nurse advocate for libraries died March 19, 1996.
Her stature as a nurse, teacher, author, researcher, and consumer health advocate warranted an obituary in the New York Times, Friday March 22.(1). Her nursing accomplishments have been noted on many listservs. Many have called her "the 20th century Florence Nightingale."
Coincidentally, the Interagency Council on Information Resources for Nursing (ICIRN) held their semi-annual meeting Friday, March 22, 1996 at the offices of the American Journal of Nursing Co. in New York. Miss Henderson was one of the founding members of ICIRN and a passionate advocate for the use and sharing of health information resources. Her life was honored with the following actions:
Regarding ICIRN, "The Interagency Council was founded in response to a pressing need." Virginia Henderson, RN, a founder had stated: "Everyone realized that there was no control over the literature in nursing. Reports were lost and some studies repeated. There was no way of recording what had been done." (12) ICIRN presented an award to Miss Henderson in January 1995, with representatives visiting her retirement home in Connecticut to present the award in person. For many years, she represented the New England Regional Council on Library Resources for Nursing.
In 1985, Miss Henderson was honored at the Annual Meeting of the Nursing and Allied Health Section of the Medical Library Association. In accepting this award, Miss Henderson noted nursing students called her "little Miss 3x5" because of her insistence on documenting their sources with bibliography cards. This is also noted in a biography by Halamandaris (13), which includes interesting photographs of her life.
Numerous videos on nursing featured Miss Henderson (14-18), preserving her unforgettable style as well as her words. In conclusion, I cannot resist including the following poem from her obituary (4), written by Yale Dean Margaret Arnstein when the project concluded in 1972:
For thirteen years unless I'm wrong
The work you've done is quite immense
To help us find the lost ref'rence
The Interagency Council on Information Resources for Nursing (ICIRN) was founded in 1960 by leading nurses and nursing librarians "to address information issues in nursing."(12) Originally the Interagency Council on Library Resources for Nursing, it was renamed in 1995. For current information, see the ICIRN home page at http://www.ajn.org/ajnnet/nrsorgs/icirn/page1.html