Historic image of nurses

About the Conservancy

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In collaboration with the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society—Iota Sigma Chapter, and the Azusa Pacific University School of Nursing, the Western Conservancy of Nursing History (WCNH) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of nursing history. Read more via the links below:

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Western Conservancy of Nursing History is to preserve the history of the nursing profession in the Western United States. We believe in the importance of understanding the historical and scholarly significance of nursing’s past in order to effectively promote its future. Therefore, we pledge to preserve the culture and heritage of nursing through the acquisition, organization, interpretation, preservation, and exhibition of nursing documentation, artifacts, and other media. These collections will be available as a resource for research and other scholarly pursuits, as well function as a medium to communicate to the greater community the pride and honor of a noble and caring profession.

“The longer, the fuller the history, the better the understanding of today and the more accurate the prediction of the future.”

–Winston Churchill

About APU

Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical, Christian university committed to God First and excellence in higher education. With 70 bachelor’s degrees, 44 master’s degrees, 33 certificates and credentials, and 9 doctoral programs, the university offers its more than 8,000 students a high-quality education on campus, online, and at several regional locations throughout Southern California.


As the president of the Western Conservancy of Nursing History, it is my pleasure to report the great strides we made with this fledgling organization in 2007.

First, we officially became a non-profit organization, recognized by both the state and federal governments, which is an advent in itself. This came about with the help of several employees of Azusa Pacific University.

Second, the School of Nursing actively assisted us as we looked for a small space at APU for the storage of our current collections, and provided us much encouragement to move forward with our endeavors. We specifically owe our gratitude for this assistance to Dean Aja Lesh, who has gone out of her way to help us.

Third, we acquired the historical nursing collections from the former California Hospital School of Nursing, the Huntington Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, and some materials from the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital and the Methodist Hospital Schools of Nursing. In addition, we began a collection of historical and old nursing textbooks and memorabilia.

And fourth, we received donations from some generous contributors to get us started, including some financial help from Sigma Theta Tau International—Iota Sigma, with whom we are partnering. We also greatly appreciate a significant grant of $10,000 from Kaiser Permanente to help us along.

Lastly, we are glad to have this website now up and running so that we can better communicate with our constituents. Again, we are very grateful for the assistance from APU’s personnel for this endeavor.

We would be grateful to receive any nursing memorabilia you wish to donate or any funding assistance. Please contact us if you would like to help or should you have any questions.


Phyllis Esslinger
President of Western Conservancy of Nursing History


At the Western Conservancy of Nursing History (WCNH), we are a group of nurses from a variety of nursing schools in the Los Angeles area that have now been closed. With the transfer of ownership in these hospitals, we discovered that our archives were being thrown away to make room for new projects. Our goal is to prevent these treasures from disappearing.

In addition to Azusa Pacific University, the following hospitals and school are partnering with us on this project: California Hospital, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, Queen of Angels, Pasadena City College, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Good Samaritan, Methodist Hospital, County General Hospital of Los Angeles, and Huntington Memorial Hospital. However, this is only a start; there are many more in California and throughout the greater United States that we’d love to see get involved.

The California Hospital School of Nursing in downtown Los Angeles has an active alumni chapter and a small room used for nursing archive display purposes. They have been working with an archival specialist to preserve their wonderful collection. This has been the first group to donate their collection to WCNH.

They also recently started an oral history program to capture memories before they are gone. They are collecting stories by way of written questionnaires, and audio and video recordings. Margaret Souza, secretary, has provided us an interviewing questionnaire. Please use it for collecting information from your own constituents.

Thanks to Phyllis Esslinger, president, the Huntington Memorial Hospital now has a beautiful hallway display to commemorate its nursing history. WCNH also currently has a small display outside the School of Nursing at Azusa Pacific University. We have received a donation from Kaiser Permanente to launch this project, and Azusa Pacific University has promised us more space on its campus.

We are grateful to other individuals from the community who have also contributed to this effort. For example, we recently acquired the office furniture from a nurse and midwife. One nurse sent the glass syringes she received upon graduation, and another, a daily diary of her experience at school. These precious treasures have become part of our history and legacy and we desire to continue working diligently to preserve more like them.

Our hope for this project is simply to save our history. We want to tell our stories and foster a place for others to share theirs. In the future, we hope to become an archival center for research, build an archival lab, and develop a PhD program for nursing history. We are already on our way with a wonderful group of nurses, archival consultants, supportive family, and gracious friends.

Now, we need you! We are seeking financial assistance, items/information from nursing schools and careers, and input/support from friends, students, and other nurses who share a similar goal of preserving this rich history. If you would like to help, please fill out our online giving form.

Thank you and best wishes,

Diane Harris-Hara, RN
Vice President


Phyllis Esslinger, RN, MSN, professor emeritus
Representing Huntington Hospital School of Nursing/Pasadena City College

Vice President

Diane Harris-Hara, RN, BSN
Representing California Hospital School of Nursing

Archival Consultant

Kenneth McGuire, BS, MA
Representing St. Vincent Medical Center School of Nursing


Margaret Souza, RN, BSN
Representing California Hospital School of Nursing


Joyce Johnson, PhD, RN-BC
Representing California State University–Los Angeles Nursing

Patricia Hanes, RN, PhD
Representing Azusa Pacific University School of Nursing

Joyce Jacob, RN, RBN, CPNP, MA
Representing California Hospital School of Nursing

Tina Johnson, RN
Representing Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center School of Nursing

Kathleen Ruccione RN, MPH, FAAN
Representing Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center School of Nursing and Children’s Hospital

Kathleen Taylor, MPH, MSN, RN
Representing Sigma Theta Tau International, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center

Arlys Veen, RN
Representing Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center

The historical journey of the Western Conservancy of Nursing History is a fascinating combination of stories about compassion, dedication, and perseverance.

“In contrast to the well-established conservation of nursing history in the East, there has been no similar effort to document the events and movements that have occurred in—or affected—nursing in the West. Fortunately, that is about to change with the founding of the Western Conservancy of Nursing History (WCNH).”

–Kathleen Ruccione, MPH, RN, FAAN

Read more about WCNH’s history in Ruccione’s article, “More Than Just an Old Brick,” from Advance for Nurses, advanceweb.com/nurses/