EventsAnnie McKay and the Untold Story of Boston Public School Nurses

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Annie McKay and the Untold Story of Boston Public School Nurses

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM


Note: This meeting will be held online via Zoom and the link will be sent to registrants the afternoon of the event.

Join author Dorothy M. Keeney to hear the story of Annie McKay, Boston’s first school nurse, and the early Boston school nurses, prior to their becoming the professionals that we know today.

“Nursing history is key to understanding the past, defining the present, and influencing the future of nursing,” explains Brigid Luskin, RN, PhD, AAHN (American Association for the History of Nursing) President, in the May/June 2011 issue of Nursing Spectrum.

Many issues transformed nurses from the stereotypical doctor’s handmaiden, struggling to obtain a respected professional status, to the school nurse who is now a clinical health expert, health care provider for students and staff, advocate for disease prevention and health maintenance, and competent health professional of today.

Explore how they managed the 1917–1919 Spanish flu, contagious diseases such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, and many polio epidemics that occurred during the 20th century to compare what we have been going through today with COVID-19. The book expands the horizons of school nursing and healthcare history, and engages with related fields such as child labor, women’s employment, economic history, and gender enquiry.

Dorothy M. Keeney, MA, BS, RN, has worked as a nurse for 20 years in the Boston Public Schools. She spent many years researching nurses' history, only to have her book launch coincide with a pandemic lockdown. She has published several articles about their complex history that appeared in the Boston Union Teacher, the South End Historical Society Newsletter, and in publications of the American Association of the History of Nursing, and the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization.

Keeney has been the unofficial historian for the Boston School Nurses and the former historian for the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization. Local newspapers also published her articles about good health practices for school children and the documents needed for school entry.

Born in New York City, Keeney graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ, with a BS in Nursing, followed by a Master’s in Health Care Administration from Framingham State University in Massachusetts many years later. Massachusetts has been her longtime residence.

Keeney has over four decades of extensive nursing experience including operating room nursing, medical surgical, pediatrics, newborn nursery, public health, and her years as a school nurse. She lives in Boston with her husband Jim. 

Copies of the book can be purchased through her website or via Amazon.

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