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NLM Launches "Confronting Violence, Improving Women’s Lives"

Special Display, Traveling Banner Exhibition and Online Exhibition Open September 17

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) announces a special display, a traveling banner exhibition made available free of charge to cultural institutions across the country and an online adaptation of Confronting Violence, Improving Women's Lives. The special display will be open to the public in the NLM History of Medicine Division (HMD) Reading Room on the first floor of the National Library of Medicine, Building 38 on the Bethesda, Maryland campus of the National Institutes of Health September 17, 2015-August 19, 2016.

An opening program will take place September 17 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM in NLM's Lister Hill Auditorium, on the first floor of Building 38A. The public is invited to this event, which will include an overview by exhibition curator Dr. Catherine Jacquet, assistant professor of history and women's and gender studies at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge), as well as remarks by nurses who figure prominently in the exhibition, including Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, professor at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Nursing (Baltimore), and former JHU professor Dr. Daniel Sheridan, currently professor at the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College (St. Louis). Kimberly Suiters, consumer investigator for ABC 7/WJLA-TV, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Confronting Violence tells a story that is unfamiliar to most. In fact, within the scholarly community, no one has written about this chapter in history.

For many, the anti-domestic violence movement came into focus during the 1985 Surgeon General's Workshop on Violence and Public Health or with the passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Yet, for years prior, nurse reformers were working on the front lines in shelters and emergency rooms across the country. They conducted studies, analyzed data and developed protocols for identification and treatment of patients who had experienced domestic violence.

This vanguard of nurses had their work cut out. Until the late 1970s, medicine as a whole had largely dismissed or failed to acknowledge domestic violence as a significant health issue. Nurses pushed the larger medical community to identify victims of battering, adequately respond to victims' needs and work towards prevention. Confronting Violence chronicles the experiences of these passionate, persistent nurses, who changed the medical profession and dramatically improved services to victims of domestic violence in the latter half of the 20th century; they developed best practices for care based on research and their professional experience and took part in activism to put domestic violence on the map as a national public health concern. The work continues today, as individuals from all walks of life and organizations draw upon the lessons of the past to develop innovative and creative approaches to supporting survivors and preventing domestic violence. Everyone can make a difference.

"The National Library of Medicine creates exhibitions and companion Web sites to inform the public about raising awareness of our rich collections," said NLM Acting Director Betsy Humphreys. "Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives, tells a powerful and important story drawing largely from the NLM's History of Nursing and Domestic violence Collection." This collection includes a selection of reports, journal articles and manuscripts, and artifacts such as buttons, posters and photographs from the first generation of nurse activists, like Daniel Sheridan and Jacquelyn Campbell. It also features the stories and objects of some of today’s activists and community organizations.

The online exhibition incorporates a Digital Gallery of videos about domestic violence from the NLM's collection. Education resources are also featured in the online exhibition, including K-12 lesson plans, a higher education module; an online activity and a robust selection of resources including K-12 suggested readings. In addition, the web feature, Related Resources at NLM, includes a selection of published articles on domestic violence and forensic nursing available through PubMed Central.

The traveling banner adaptation of Confronting Violence, Improving Women's Lives will be traveling to 50 sites across the country over the next four years. Please visit the Traveling Exhibition Services Web site to see the tour itinerary and find this exhibition near you.

Visitor Information

Located on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus of the NIH, the National Library of Medicine is open Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission to all onsite NLM exhibitions is free. For more information, visit: To arrange a group tour, call 301.594.1947.

A group of 10 people pose casually outside the Denison Memorial Library
A group photograph of nursing researchers and activists at Denison Memorial Library, University of Colorado, Denver ca. 1990s
From left to right: Yvonne Ulrich, Laura McKenna, Barbara Parker, Karen Landenburger, Judith McFarlane, Christine King, Josephine Ryan, Doris Campbell, Jacquelyn Campbell, Daniel Sheridan

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

The cover of Best Practices: Innovative Domestic Violence Programs in Health Care Settings
Best Practices: Innovative Domestic Violence Programs in Health Care Settings, Janet Nudelman, Nancy Durborow, Marya Grambs, and Patrick Letellier, 1997

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

The cover of Nursing Care of Victims of Family Violence.
Nursing Care of Victims of Family Violence, the first nursing textbook on family violence, Jacquelyn Campbell, Janice Humphreys, 1984

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

A pile of buttons, which all read Women Beating is a CRIME.
Rush Coalition Against Spouse Abuse (RCASA) advocacy button, ca. 1980s

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

An outdoor rally; people hold up signs that read Sexism kills stop wife abuse and Rapists must be stopped.
Women rally in City Hall Plaza, in Boston to speak out against violence against women, August 26, 1976

©Ellen Shub 2015 all other rights reserved

A group of people stand outside a tent holding a banner that reads Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence Break the Silence…STOP the Violence.
Activists with the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence participate in the first Jane Doe Walk for Women’s Safety in Boston, October 25, 1992

©Ellen Shub 2015 all other rights reserved

Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. NLM is the world's largest medical library, and millions of scientists, health professionals and the public around the world use NLM services every day.