Select Page

Nettie Birnbach Papers and Memorabilia

Nettie Birnbach, EdD, RN, FAAN, served in the Cadet Nurse Corps and received her doctoral degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Birnbach is a clinical nurse specialist in community health and has spent most of her career in nursing education. She served on the faculty of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn as an associate professor and the director of the Center for Nursing Research. She served as president of the New York State Nurses Association and was active in NYSNA District 14. Throughout her career she has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Award for Leadership in Professional Organizations from the Nurses Educations Alumni Association, Teachers College, Columbia University and a Fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing. The papers include Cadet Nurse Corps material, including her uniform; Dr. Birnbach’s doctoral dissertation; District 14 records; and various professional papers from throughout her career including correspondence, programs, and certificates and awards.


Index code: MC35

Finding Guide:

Finding Aid for the Nettie Birnbach Papers   

Compiled by Steve McErleane, Archival Intern February 7, 2012
in partial fulfillment of the MSIS degree, SUNY Albany


VOLUME: 10.0 cubic feet
ACQUISITION: The items in this collection were obtained from Dr.Birnbach in a series of donations from 1994 to 2010.
ACCESS: This collection is open to the public by appointment.
COPYRIGHT: Please consult the repository for information about duplication or publishing of any materials from this collection.
Nettie Birnbach Papers (MC35), Bellevue Alumnae Center for Nursing History, Foundation of New York State Nurses, Guilderland, NY

Biographical Sketch

Nettie Sodikow Birnbach was born in the Bronx on March 2, 1926. She grew up in Manhattan and there attended elementary and secondary schools, graduating from George Washington High School in 1943.

Birnbach recounts in her oral history that “[S]ome time either in junior high school or the first year of high school… I was talking with a nurse and became interested in what she was telling me about her career. … I had an interest in microbiology, in germs, and what caused disease and I read a great many books like Microbe Hunters and The Story of Dr. Semmelweiss.[1] Birnbach entered Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital School of Nursing (KCHSON) in June of 1943 – one of thirty–three women, and only one out of seven Jewish women – to prepare for her life’s career as a member of the World War II Cadet Nurse Corps at KCHSON.

Birnbach received her B.S. in Nursing in 1974 from Molloy College in Rockville Center, NY. She received her M.A. in Nursing Education in 1976, Ed. M. in Curriculum and Instruction in Nursing in 1977, and Ed. D. in Curriculum and Instruction in Nursing in 1982, all from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Prior to 1974, Birnbach’s professional experience consisted of fifteen years of nursing practice in various clinical settings. Upon graduation in 1946, she worked 6–day, 48–hour weeks at Willard Parker Contagious Disease Hospital. Working with poliomyelitis patients in iron lungs, or anthrax or small pox (helping to vaccinate NYC during the 1947 small pox outbreak in NYC) or caring with children with pertussis or seeing patients in their own homes for evaluation while staffing the hospital’s ambulance, Birnbach realized that her next career move needed to be into the Public Health Nursing arena.

From 1947 to 1949, Birnbach worked as a Public Health Nurse for the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH). She nursed in various clinics dealing with tuberculosis, well baby care, and venereal disease; at other times she collaborated with School Nurses to coordinate home visits and care for ill students or parents.

Following a number of years away from active professional involvement to devote time to having and raising her family, Birnbach re–entered the workforce in a part–time capacity and in 1971, she entered Molloy College to pursue her RN–to–BSN Degree and graduated in 1974. From 1974–1984 she was an Associate Professor of Nursing at Molloy College.

From 1977–1981 she was a partner at K-B Professional Nursing Associates, an independent general nursing practice in Baldwin, NY. In the summer of 1984, she was a Public Health Nurse with the Visiting Nurse Association in Oyster Bay, NY.

In 1984, Birnbach was recruited to join the faculty of Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx, (a part of the City University of New York [CUNY]) as an Associate Professor of Nursing. She held that position from 1984–1985 and was then recruited in 1985 to join the staff of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Nursing Association (MARNA). From 1985–1986 she was Associate Director, Acting Executive Director, and Interim Project Director at (MARNA). In late 1985 knowing that the MARNA study was approaching its terminus, Dr. Sandra Fielo of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Brooklyn approached Dr. Birnbach to consider joining the faculty of SUNY Brooklyn.[2]

In 1986 Birnbach begin work at SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn along with Mary Germaine to formulate and implement a “new” Masters//Clinical Masters Degree Program. It was the first Clinical Practice Masters in the Borough of Brooklyn focusing on continuity of care for high-risk adults in an urban setting. She began there as an Associate Professor and over the next few years served as Director of the Center for Nursing Research and Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research. In 1993 she became a full professor and in 1994 a Professor Emerita.

Moving to Florida in 1994, Dr. Birnbach taught as an Adjunct Professor at Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. In 1996, she officially retired from academia.

Nettie Birnbach has co–edited several books and has presented and published dozens of papers. She has been active in many professional organizations throughout her career: American Nurses Association, New York State Nurses Association, serving as a Board Member, Treasurer and as President from 1991–1993; member of District 13 of NYSNA then District 14 of NYSNA serving as President from 1986-1988 and the Presidency of the American Association for the History of Nursing from 1998-2000. During Birnbach’s term as NYSNA President, she became involved as a member of Hadassah Nurses Council in Nassau County. Upon moving to Florida in 1994, she learned there was no Council to which she could transfer her membership. By February of 1995, she organized close to thirty nurses to join the newly created Nurses Council in the Florida–Atlantic Region. By the end of 1995, between fifty and fifty–eight nurses members were present as the Florida-Atlantic Region became officially inducted as a bonafide chapter of Hadassah.[3]

Scope and Contents Notes

This collection contains materials that document the various facets of Dr. Birnbach’s versatile career for which she established the original order. Her various positions in professional associations are well documented, as are the publications of these organizations. Its earliest materials document Birnbach’s secondary education; the remainder spans her entire career as a student, nurse, educator, and advocate. Her doctoral dissertation, manuscripts, supplementary research materials, and correspondence with colleagues are included. The collection also includes Birnbach’s various certificates, awards, and autographed programs that she collected over her career.

Series Descriptions

Series 1: Education and Employment
1.0 cubic footThis series contains materials related to Birnbach’s high school, nursing, and advanced educational preparation as well as her teaching career in New York State and Florida. Her doctoral dissertation, “The Genesis of the Nurse Registration Movement in the United States, 1893–1903,” and her dissertation research materials are included. Contained is this series is the 1986 Mid-Atlantic Regional Nursing Association Preliminary Report created during her tenure as Director of that organization.This series also includes her student Cadet Corps Nursing uniform.
Series 2: Professional Licensure
1.0 cubic footThis series contains materials that document continuing education programs and newsletters.
Series 3: Professional Affiliations
1.0 cubic footThis series contains materials that document Birnbach’s affiliations with numerous professional affiliations. It also contains publications of these organizations.
Series 4: Correspondence
1.5 cubic feetThis series contains letters from Birnbach’s students at Molloy College as well as correspondence between Birnbach and colleagues.
Series 5: Publications and Presentations
2.0 cubic feetThis series contains manuscripts and published material produced by Birnbach. It also contains research materials such as journal articles, newspaper articles, and library/archive resources.
Series 6: Awards and Autographed Programs
0.5 cubic footThis series contains awards and certificates awarded to Birnbach over her career. It also contains many autographed programs collected by Birnbach.

Box and Folder List

Series 1: Education and Employment(Chronological)

Box 1

  1. Yearbook: George Washington High School “Hatchet,” 1943
  2. Kings County Hospital School of Nursing Student Handbook, 1943
  3. Yearbook: Kaycee Stripes, 1944
  4. Yearbook: Kaycee Stripes, 1945
  5. Yearbook: Kaycee Stripes, 1946
  6. Yearbook: Kings County Hospital School of Nursing 50th Anniversary, 1947
  7. Advanced Education Papers, 1947, 1948, 1972, 1973
  8. Yearbook: Kings County Hospital School of Nursing 60th Anniversary, 1957, Revised 1958
  9. Yearbook: Kings County Hospital School of Nursing 75th Anniversary, 1972
  10. Advanced Education Papers, 1974 – 1975
  11. Yearbook: Molloy College, Chrysalis, 1974
  12. Advanced Education Papers: Doctoral Preparation Notebook, 1976
  13. Advanced Education Papers: Western Civilization I & II, 1976
  14. Teachers College Doctoral Records, 1977–1982
  15. Doctoral Dissertation Research Materials, 1978–1982
  16. Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, 1978
  17. Doctoral Dissertation & Abstract, 1982
  18. Evaluations and Tenure Recommendations, 1985–1988
  19. Student Evaluation Forms of Classroom Teaching (blank), 1986–1991
  20. Mid-Atlantic Regional Nursing Association Preliminary Report, 1986
  21. Cadet Nurse Corps Service: “Fifty Years,” 1994
  22. Florida–Atlantic University (FAU) Teaching Materials, 1994–1996 [1 of 2]
  23. FAU Teaching Materials, 1994–1996 [2 of 2]

Series 2: Professional Licensure (Chronological)

Box 2

  1. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1974-1985 (1974-1982) [1 of 2]
  2. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1974-1985 (1983-1985) [2 of 2]
  3. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1986
  4. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1987
  5. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1988
  6. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1989
  7. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1990
  8. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1992
  9. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1993
  10. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1995
  11. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1996
  12. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1997
  13. Continuing Education Programs & Newsletters, 1998–1999
  14. List of Workshops Attended, 1984–1991

Series 3: Professional Affiliations (Alphabethical, Chronological)

Box 3

Subseries: American Association for the History of Nursing


    1. Administrative Materials, 1983-1987
    2. “Bulletin” Newsletter, 1983–1988
    3. Conference Proceedings, 1984–1989
    4. “Bulletin” Newsletter, 1989–1993
    5. Conference Proceedings, 1990–1994
    6. “Bulletin” Newsletter, 1994–1999
    7. Conference Proceedings, 1995–1998
    8. Correspondence and Presidential Messages, 1996–2002
    9. Conference Proceedings, 1999–2002
    10. “Bulletin” Newsletter, 2000–2003
    11. Conference Proceedings, 2003–2008

Subseries: American Nurses Association


    1. Lucy Lincoln Drown Nursing History Society, 1991–1993
    2. Hall of Fame Committee, 1993–1994
    3. Hall of Fame Committee, 1995
    4. Hall of Fame Committee, 1996
    5. Centennial, 1996
    6. Program: “A Seat at the Table: 50 Years of Progress,” 1996

Subseries: Hadassah

  1. Florida Osteoporosis Prevention & Education Program, 1996
  2. Florida State Osteoporosis Society: “Strong Women Inside & Out”, 1996–1999
  3. Florida: Osteoporosis Education, 1997–1999

Box 3a

Subseries: Nurses Leadership Council


  1. Nurses Leadership Council Correspondence and Programs, 1998-2004   [1 of 3]
  2. Nurses Leadership Council Correspondence and Programs, 1998-2004   [2 of 3]
  3. Nurses Leadership Council Correspondence and Programs, 1998-2004   [2 of 3]
Box 4

    1. Florida State Osteoporosis Advisory Council, 1997–2003
    2. Publicity, 1999–2002
    3. Florida State Osteoporosis Coalition Program and Literature, 2002–2003
    4. National Osteoporosis Awareness Project (FORE), 2003
    5. Publicity, 2002–2005
    6. Publicity, 2006–2010

Subseries: New York State Nurses Association

    1. Preparatory Research Materials for Oral History with Katherine De Witt, 1909, 1910, 1913, 1932
    2. Preparatory Research Materials for Oral History with Lydia E. Hall, Director of Loeb Center for Nursing Rehabilitation, 1963–1971
    3. Preparatory Research Materials for Oral History with Ruth Brooks, RN, 1983–1985 [1 of 2]
    4. Preparatory Research Materials for Oral History with Ruth Brooks, RN, 1983–1985 [2 of 2]
    5. Oral History Interviews, 1988
    6. Testimony to NYS Senate Majority Task Force on Suburbs in Transition, 1988
    7. Grant Proposal to Create the Archives at the NYS Nurses Association, 1988–1990
    8. Presidential Messages, Addresses, Correspondence, 1991
    9. Testimony to NYS Senate Health Committee: Mark R. Chassin, M.D., 1992
    10. Presidential Messages, Addresses, Correspondence, 1992 [1 of 2]
    11. Presidential Messages, Addresses, Correspondence, 1992 [2 of 2]
    12. Presidential Messages, Addresses, Correspondence, 1993
    13. District 14, NYSNA- Photographs of 75th Anniversary Celebration, 1994
    14. “40 Years of Collective Bargaining,” 1997

Subseries: Honor Society

    1. Sigma Theta Tau, 1982–2002

Subseries: Teachers College

  1. The Society for Nursing History, 1979–1989
  2. Teachers College Nursing Education Alumni Association, 1981–1995 [not inclusive]
  3. Proceedings of the 20th Annual Isabel M. Stewart Conference on Research in Nursing, 1983
  4. Teachers College Hall of Fame, 1999

Series 4: Correspondence (Chronological)

Box 5

  1. Letters from Students at Molloy College, 1974–1984
  2. Professional Correspondence, 1975–1982
  3. Professional Correspondence, 1983–1984
  4. Professional Correspondence, 1985
  5. Professional Correspondence, 1986
  6. Professional Correspondence, 1987
  7. Professional Correspondence, 1988
  8. Professional Correspondence, 1989
  9. Professional Correspondence, 1990
  10. Professional Correspondence, 1991
  11. Professional Correspondence, 1992
  12. Professional Correspondence, 1993
  13. Professional Correspondence, 1994
  14. Professional Correspondence, 1995
  15. Professional Correspondence, 1996
  16. Professional Correspondence, 1997
Box 6

  1. Professional Correspondence, 1998
  2. Professional Correspondence, 1999
  3. Professional Correspondence, 2000
  4. Professional Correspondence, 2001
  5. Professional Correspondence, 2002
  6. Professional Correspondence, 2003
  7. Professional Correspondence, 2004–2005
  8. Professional Correspondence, 2006–2007
  9. Professional Correspondence, 2008–2010

Series 5: Publications and Presentions

Box 7

  1. Brooklyn Visiting Nurse Association, 1894-1995
  2. Research Articles (Professional Issues), 1951-2010
  3. Library/Archive Resources, 1957-1998 [1 of 2]
  4. Library/Archive Resources, 1957-1998 [1 of 2]
  5. Research Articles (Historical Figures), 1958–1993
  6. Research Articles (Public Policy), 1980, 1993–1998
  7. Presentations (Nursing History), 1981–1983
  8. Research Articles (Nursing History), 1981–1993, undated
  9. Manuscripts (and Related Correspondence), 1982#8211;1984
  10. “Prologue to Professionalism” N.B. as contributor, 1983
  11. Presentations (Contemporary Issues), 1984, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, undated
  12. The Journal of the New York State Nurses Association (Contributions by N.B.), 1984#8211;1986, 1989–1999
  13. “Advances in Nursing Science” Article in Nursing History by N.B., 1985
  14. Research Articles (Professionalization), 1985#8211;1987, undated
  15. Manuscripts (and Related Correspondence), 1985#8211;1989
  16. Presentations (Nursing Registration), 1985, 1992, 2002, undated [1 of 2]
  17. Presentations (Nursing Registration), 1985, 1992, 2002, undated [2 of 2]
  18. “Entry Into Professional Nursing Practice” Article in Imprint by N.B., 1986
  19. Presentations (Nursing History), 1986, 1988, 1992, 1997, undated
Box 8

  1. Presentations (Contemporary Issues), 1987–1989
  2. “Readings in Nursing Research” Compiled from Isabel Maitland Stewart Conferences, N.B. as compiler, 1988
  3. Manuscripts (and Related Correspondence), 1989–1994
  4. First Words Selected Addresses from the National League of Nursing, N.B. as editor, 1991
  5. Legacy of Leadership, N.B. as editor, 1993
  6. Presentations (Contemporary Issues), 1993, 1996, 2001, undated
  7. Brooklyn Visiting Nurse Association Manuscripts, 1993–1997
  8. Manuscripts (and Related Correspondence), 1996–1999
  9. Presentations (Nursing History), 1997, 1999
  10. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, N.B. on expert panel, November 2002

Series 6: Awards and Autographed Programs

Box 9

  1. Membership Certificates, 1975–1983
  2. Molloy College Ten-Year Service Award, 1984
  3. The Ruth W. Harper Distinguished Service Award For Leadership In District 14 NYSNA, 1988
  4. New York State//United University Professions Excellence Award, 1991
  5. Induction into the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers, 1993
  6. “Welcome Home” – Induction Ceremony, Nursing Honor Society, 1996
  7. ANA Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of Birnbach’s work as chair of the Hall of Fame Committee, 1997
  8. Harvard Nurses’ Health Study Certificate of Appreciation, 1996
  9. Induction into the NYSNA Leadership Institute, 1999
  10. AAHN Certificate of Appreciation for service as President, 2000
  11. Health Care Financing Administration Certificate of Appreciation, 2000
  12. Autographed Programs, 1976–1997
  13. Florida Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program Certificate of Appreciation, undated


Box 10

  1. ANA Council of Nurse Researchers, Certificate of Service as Member of Nominating Committee, 1985-1987
  2. NYSNA Certificate of Appreciation – Director at Large, 1987
  3. NACLI, District 14 NYSNA, The Ruth W. Harper Distinguished Service Award, 1988
  4. New York Perinatal Association, Board of Directors, 1988-1990
  5. NYSNA Certificate of Appreciation for Service as Treasurer, 1989
  6. SUNY Health Sciences Center Brooklyn, College of Nursing Alumni Association, Honorary Lifetime Membership, 1994
  7. General Council of Nursing, Spain, XXth Quadrennial Congress, ICN, Diploma of Contribution as Speaker, 1993
  8. Health Care Financing Administration, Certificate of Appreciation of Support, 2000
  9. NYSNA Honorary Recognition Award, 2009
  10. NEAA Teachers College, R. Louise McManus Award, 2010
  11. ANA Hall of Fame, 2010


  • [1] Nettie Birnbach Oral History, Session 1, Interviewer: Cathryne A. Welch, 5 October 2009
  • [2] Birnbach Oral History, Session 1, Interviewer: Gertrude B. Hutchinson, 6 October 2009
  • [3] Birnbach, Oral History Session 5. Interviewer: Cathryne A. Welch, 7 October 2009
Gertrude B. Hutchinson March 7, 2012
August 7, 2015

© 2001-2006 Foundation of the New York State Nurses Association, Inc.
© 2006-2017 Foundation of New York State Nurses, Inc.

All Rights Reserved