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National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses collection

Identifier: aarl05-001

Scope and Content Note

Minutes and agendas, scrapbooks, photographs, reports and historical writings, printed material and ephemera, personal papers of individual nurses, books, and artifacts including textiles make up the National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses Collection. The material documents the history and activities of the conclave, the lives and professional accomplishments of its members, the history of Grady Hospital and its School of Nursing, and the historical role of Mrs. Ludie C. Andrews.

Conclave Historian Mary Dixon Smith chaired the Collection Committee (co-chaired by Dora Edwards Way), which coordinated the assembly of National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses Collection. In 2000-2001, the Committee solicited biographical information and historical records from Grady Graduates and their families. With these donations, Mrs. Smith created History and Profile books, which contain biographical data on over 100 nurses, and assembled the Conclave's records (minutes, reports, convention programs). Mrs. Smith and the Committee also assisted with an exhibit at Auburn Avenue Research Library, coinciding with the 2001 Conclave in Atlanta, about Mrs. Andrews and the Grady School of Nursing.

Though many Grady Graduates' donations were added to the National Conclave's records, to the Profile books, or used for exhibit, the committee also compiled personal collections from donating nurses. These individual collections, arranged by form, make up all of Series III and IV, and the bulk of Series VI and VII. Thus, the National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses Collection includes small collections from the following Grady Graduate Nurses:
  1. Florence Robinette Pyron (Class of 1926): Papers, scrapbook, photographs, artifacts
  2. Dorris Gray Rankin (Class of 1925): Photographs
  3. Kathleen Moon Thomas (Class of 1927): Papers, photographs
  4. Martha Greer Bentley (Class of 1930): Photographs
  5. Berdie Torrence McFarlin (Class of 1934): Photographs
  6. Evelyn Byrd Mosley (Class of 1937): Artifacts
  7. Aquilla Ware Walker (Class of 1937): Photographs
  8. Annie Pearl Williams Welch (Class of 1937): Papers, photographs, artifacts
  9. Verdelle Thomas Taylor (Class of 1939): Papers
  10. Idella Hasty Hogan (Class of 1940): Papers, photographs
  11. Nema Newell (Class of 1940): papers, Photographs
  12. Pecola White Rodriguez (Class of 1940): Scrapbook
  13. Arthur Lee Sawyer Cook (Class of 1943): Papers, artifacts
  14. Frankie Holliday Finnie Bodden (Class of 1944): Photographs
  15. Mada Smith West (Class of 1943): Papers
  16. Verdelle Brim Bellamy, Class of 1947): Artifacts
  17. Inetz Cameron Stanley (Class of 1948): Papers, scrapbooks and books, photographs, artifacts
  18. Phyllis Canady Benjamin (Class of 1950): Papers, photographs, artifacts
  19. Ailean Clayton Ifill (Class of 1950): Papers, photographs
  20. Ramona Jackson Andrews (Class of 1950): Papers
  21. Gertie Rudolph Walker (Class of 1951): Papers
  22. Bama Southall Gray (Class of 1952): Scrapbooks
  23. Dorothy Waters Knox (Class of 1952): Papers, scrapbook
  24. Mildred Cherry (Class of 1954): Papers, photographs
  25. Norma Hughes Scott (Class of 1956): Papers, books
  26. Dora Lee Edwards Way (Class of 1958): Papers, books, artifacts
  27. Annie Nell Edwards Sears (Class of 1958): Photographs, artifacts
  28. Phyllis Perry Paxton (Class of 1963): Papers
  29. Janice Phrethenia Willis (Class of 1964): Photographs, artifacts
  30. Inell Brown Robinson (Class of 1970): Papers
  31. Barbara Lawrence Green (Class of 1972): Papers
  32. Donation of papers, artifacts from Bernice K. Dixon (historian/former Director, Grady Hospital School of Nursing)


  • Majority of material found within Bulk, 1972-2003
  • Bulk, 1972-2003 1917-2003 1972-2003

Restrictions on Access:

There are no restrictions on research use of this collection.

Restrictions on Use:

Prior permission from the Research Library must be obtained in writing before any portion of this collection can be published or reproduced.

Organizational History

The National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses, an organization of professional nurse graduates of Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia, first met in 1972. The organization is devoted to maintaining and publicizing the history of the school and its founder, Mrs. Ludie Andrews; to fostering high standards of nursing and health care; and to engaging the issues facing African Americans in the nursing profession. In 1917, the first class of the Municipal Training School for Colored Nurses entered Grady Hospital, where a school for white nurses had been founded in 1898. Organized and initially supervised by African American nurses, the Training School for Colored Nurses was administered by the director of the program for whites after 1923. In 1946, when Grady Hospital became part of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, the school was renamed Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. The hospital maintained two separate programs for black and white nurses until its integration in 1964; it closed the nursing school in 1982. In 1965, black Grady Graduates, invited from Detroit to a School of Nursing homecoming, arrived in Atlanta only to be excluded from the whites-only reunion. In discussing the situation, Grady Graduates from across the country discovered a common interest in addressing the political, educational, and economic status of African American nurses and developed a renewed sense of comradeship. After an organizational meeting in Atlanta in 1968, the first National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses met in Detroit in 1972. The Conclave, which incorporated in 1977, has met biennially since 1975. Many Conclave members also belong to local Grady alumnae groups or to chapters of the Grady Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association (which integrated its black and white chapters in 1972). Hosts of the Conclave's national convention have included groups of Grady Graduates in New York, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Raising awareness of the accomplishments of Mrs. Ludie Clay Andrews (1875-1969), founder of the Municipal Training School for Colored Nurses and Georgia's "Dean of Black Nurses," remains central to the Conclave's mission. Mrs. Andrews earned a degree in nursing at Spelman Seminary. (Spelman closed its nursing program in 1928.) She was supervisor at another training school in 1914, when the city of Atlanta named her to create the nurse training program for African Americans at Grady Municipal Hospital. While organizing the school, selecting its first students, and working to achieve its accreditation, Mrs. Andrews, at her own expense, continued a legal battle she had initiated with the Georgia Board of Nurse Examiners. She fought for ten years in order to secure for African American graduate nurses the right to sit for the same certification exam taken by white nurses. In 1920, the year the Training School for Colored Nurses graduated its first class, Mrs. Andrews won for her students the right to earn the title, Registered Nurse. The National Grady Nurses Conclave has publicized the accomplishments of Mrs. Andrews with a plaque placed at Grady Hospital, a portrait of her presented to Spelman College, and a major exhibit at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Since 1975, the Conclave has bestowed as its highest honor the Ludie Andrews Distinguished Service Award.

Grady Graduates have had varied, successful professional lives, and a number were pioneering African American women in their achievements. Many earned advanced degrees, and some entered research or education; others have had administrative careers in health care and nonprofit organizations; and still others undertook second careers in or out of health care. Numerous Grady Graduates have had distinguished careers in nursing, including at Grady Hospital, and several attained important leadership positions in the profession, including the first African American presidents of the Georgia Nurses Association and the Michigan Nurses Association. Verdelle Brim Bellamy, an early organizer of the Conclave, later served as President of the Georgia Board of Nursing, the very board whose exclusionary policies Mrs. Andrews had fought. The Conclave's first Honorary Member was another pioneering African American nurse, Mrs. Mabel K. Staupers, the first Executive and last President of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, the professional organization that achieved integration of the American Nurses Association.

The biennial conclave provides Grady Graduates with an opportunity to meet for serious discussion of issues as health care and society continue to evolve. From its inception, the Conclave has also addressed recruitment, retention and development of African Americans in the nursing profession. It grants scholarships to nursing students, and at the convention, workshops provide members with an opportunity for continuing education. Topics over the years have included geriatric care, AIDS, substance abuse, and information technology. Fellowship is another important purpose of the National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses, and the meetings provide the nurses with the opportunity to socialize, to share their memories of Grady, to celebrate their accomplishments, and to look to their profession's future.


16.0 Linear feet




The National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses, an organization of professional nurse graduates of Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, is devoted to maintaining and publicizing the history of the school, which existed 1917-1982, and its founder, Mrs. Ludie Andrews; to fostering high standards of nursing and health care; and to engaging the issues facing African Americans in the nursing profession. The collection contains the Conclave's records and personal papers of members, and includes photographs and artifacts. It documents the history of the organization, the history of the Grady Hospital School of Nursing, and accomplishments of Grady Graduates.

Arrangement of the Collection

I. National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses Records

II. Chapter Records

III. Grady Graduate Nurses' Collections

IV. Grady Graduates' Scrapbooks and Books

V. Conclave Yearbook and Book Collection

VI. Photographic Material

VII. Artifacts and Textiles

Finding Aid Note

Finding aid available in repository.

Acquired From:

Gift of the National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses via Mary Dixon Smith, 2001.

Related Materials in Other Repositories:

  1. Grady Hospital School of Nursing Records, 1900-1984, Southern Labor Archives, Special Collections Department, Georgia State University Library, Atlanta
  2. Pauline B. Eans Papers, 1926-1981, Black Women in the Middle West Project, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis (Grady Hospital Municipal Training School for Colored Nurses student)

Related Materials in This Repository:

  1. Lucille V. Hill papers (Public Health Nurse, Fulton County Health Department)
  2. Portia Allen Hunt family papers (Practical Nurse, former Grady Hospital employee)
  3. Dr. Asa G. Yancey, Sr., M.D., collection (Medical Director, Grady Memorial Hospital)

Physical Description

in 15 boxes


Processed with funds provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission as part of the Southern Nurses Associations Records Project, 2004-2005.
Inventory of the National Conclave of Grady Graduate Nurses Collection, 1917-2003, bulk dates 1972-2003 aarl05-001aarl05-001
Edited Full Draft
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History Repository

101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta GA 30303