North Carolina Licensed Practical Nurses Association Records, 1946-2012

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North Carolina Licensed Practical Nurses Association
Contains the organizational records of the North Carolina Licensed Practical Nurses Association (NCLPNA), whose mission was to provide professional development, continuing education opportunities, and political advocacy for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and practical nursing students in the state of North Carolina. Major topics include licensed practical nursing, nursing education standards in North Carolina, African American women in medicine, North Carolina hospital systems, and healthcare advocacy. Types of materials include subject files, meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, continuing education and conference materials, publications, financial records, membership records, bound and unbound ledgers, photographs, publications, transparencies, ephemera, and drawings. Materials range in date from 1946 to 2012, with the bulk dating from 1965 to 2009.
35.5 Linear Feet (19 cartons, 6 manuscript boxes, 2 half manuscript boxes, 1 flat box, and 6 card boxes)
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Organized into 9 series: Administrative Records; Committees & Task Forces; Continuing Education Achievement Points; Convention; Correspondence; Membership; Minutes; Publications; and Subject Files. The Administrative Records series is divided into the following 6 subseries: Executive Board; Financial Records; Individuals; Insurance; Records (comprising the bulk of the Administrative Records series); and Tax Records. The Continuing Education Achievement Points series is divided into the following 2 subseries: Completion Logs by Member; and Workshops. Records are arranged alphabetically and chronologically unless otherwise noted. Duplicates of some materials may be found between series. Languages include mostly English. Materials range in date from 1946 to 2012, with the bulk from 1965 to 2009.

The North Carolina Licensed Practical Nurses Association (NCLPNA) records are in physical format and are mostly handwritten and typed paper documents unless otherwise noted in series and subseries description; other types of materials include ledgers, photographs, publications, transparencies, ephemera, and drawings. While there are documents printed from computer word processing programs, and at least 1 printed email, no digital records are included in the collection. As a small organization in operation from the 1940s to early 2010s, most day-to-day business and administrative activities were conducted on paper, via mail. Throughout its existence, the NCLPNA allocated funds for specialized printing, mimeograph stenciling, and mailing equipment. Beginning in the 1970s, this equipment was rented from the company Pitney Bowes. Budgetary goals were met in part through dues paid by NCLPNA members, communication with whom depended on up-to-date mailing lists, a postage meter, expedient printing, and a functioning Xerox machine.

All files were actively maintained at the organization's home office in Durham, North Carolina. The NCLPNA Executive Secretary acted as the records custodian and membership manager for the entire statewide organization. She was also tasked with personally answering incoming correspondence or directing it to someone who could. Area chapter secretaries forwarded membership rosters, meeting minutes, changes of address, and reports. Individual members across the state mailed in their questions, concerns, condolences, congratulations, suggestions, newspaper clippings, educational flyers, postcards, and greeting cards. Nursing organizations, state departments, hospital systems, office supply vendors, military bases, pin manufacturers, lawyers, publishers, utility companies, and banks--all addressed their correspondence, solicitations, bills, and publications to the NCLPNA headquarters in Durham.

Traces of those who worked as secretaries exist in the NCLPNA records in the form of handwritten and typed meeting minutes, memoranda, and personal correspondence, and serve as vital sources of information and gossip. One collection of correspondence, filed among administrative records in a folder affixed with a typed label stating, "LUCAS, SYBIL," opens a window onto the life of a licensed practical nurse between June 1964 and February 1965. Penned during overnight nursing shifts by Sybil Lucas, LPN--who served as Secretary of the Greensboro Area Chapter #27 and was associated with the Asheboro Area Chapter #11 in the early 1960s--the letters offer sharp insight into the interpersonal relationships between NCLPNA President Edna Koonts and her fellow peers making up the greater North Carolina constituency of LPNs. Many of Lucas' letters were addressed to "Dorothy" and "Doris"--the latter possibly referring to Doris Crowder, a white woman who served as NCLPNA President from 1959 to 1963 and later Executive Secretary under President Edna Koonts.

At the time the records were created and organized, what made sense to one secretary might be changed or built upon by whomever took over her position after her departure. Multiple filing systems were active in tandem throughout changes in leadership, with folder titles reflecting the organizational preferences of different individuals. Filing systems arrived in situ when the materials were donated by Jessie Parker Smith. Care was taken to preserve original order when systems found common ground; however, an effort was made to integrate all materials within an order that reflects the daily goings-on of the organization, centered around the typical administrative and operational tasks that might have been undertaken by a secretary at the NCLPNA headquarters on a day-to-day basis.

Materials include codes of ethics; forms; letterhead; bylaws and resolutions; administrative meeting minutes, agenda, and notes from a variety of committees, area chapters, and constituency groups; personal and professional correspondence between individuals and groups inside and outside of the organization; cookbook and t-shirt order forms; photocopies of personal checks; bound and unbound ledgers; articles of incorporation and amendment; transcripts of speeches; printed email; officer installation protocol; galley copies of publications, drafts, and pre-formatted content for newsletters; photographs; shipping receipts; publishing, vendor, and maintenance contracts; real estate agreements; deed; bank statements; building appraisals and inspections; rental agreements; United States Postal Service postage meter register reading booklets; office equipment inventories; greeting cards; postcards; business cards; parliamentary procedural instructions and official motion sheets; death announcements and obituaries; newspaper clippings; seals; mailing lists; audit and budget reports; personnel records and job descriptions; executive board meeting notes; listings of area chapters and leadership; invitations; conference schedules; calendars; overhead transparencies; publications from state agencies and other nursing organizations; annual reports; membership rosters and totals; membership cards; legislative reports; grant proposals; brochures; flyers; programs; master copies of mimeograph stencils; and continuing educational materials, including handouts, syllabi, curriculum vitae for instructors, attendance rosters, and reference cards.

Biographical / historical:

The North Carolina Licensed Practical Nurses Association (NCLPNA) was an incorporated statewide nursing organization that operated from 1946 to 2012. Its mission was to provide professional development, continuing education opportunities, and political advocacy for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and practical nursing students in the state of North Carolina.

According to the American Nurses Association, LPNs are often the primary point of contact for their patients. They perform basic care tasks under the guidance of registered nurses and physicians. Day-to-day duties of an LPN might include updating medical records, dressing wounds, inserting catheters, assisting with a patient's daily routines, and ensuring concerns are communicated to the rest of the healthcare team.

The NCLPNA was founded in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1947 with 22 charter members. In the late 1940s, when North Carolina hospitals still widely segregated hospital services based on a patient's race, the role of LPN was a vital entry point for women of color into the healthcare profession. The NCLPNA stands out as a group of African American women and LPNs of color coming together to share knowledge and education, improve patient care, and advocate for their profession. Starting out as a nursing group composed of predominantly African American women and LPNs of color, by the 1960s representation grew to reflect the diverse array of backgrounds and identity groups, including men, held by LPNs throughout North Carolina. At the national level, the NCLPNA was a member of the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN). During its time of operation, the NCLPNA was headquartered in Durham, North Carolina. In 1976, the NCLPNA purchased a house at 214 South Driver Street, its home for the remainder of the organization's existence.

Representation was divided into area chapters that encompassed many major cities and hospital systems throughout the state. Representatives were nominated and appointed by fellow LPNs to form the governing body of the NCLPNA, to serve as delegates at national NFLPN conventions, and to serve on committees related to convention planning and membership outreach activities. Leadership was composed of an executive board, with roles including Executive Director, President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Area chapters in North Carolina cities and towns, representing many of North Carolina's major hospital systems, also installed leadership roles, and designated further specialized "Committee Chairmen," including Benevolence Chairman, Scrapbook and History Chairman, and Chaplain. One document titled "Yearbook Area #13" lists the names of state level executives alongside area executives and committee chairs, offering a snapshot of the entire representative body for the Southern Pines NCLPNA chapter between 1969 and 1970.

In 1975, the NCLPNA established the Continuing Education Achievement Point (CEAP) Program to improve patient care by providing continuing education events and recognition of leadership and educational achievement for all NCLPNA members. Continuing education opportunities were also featured at annual state conventions hosted in ballrooms at a variety of hotels and convention centers in different cities across North Carolina. Not only did conventions provide an opportunity for nurses to share knowledge, network, and build friendships, but conventions were also a major source of fundraising and helped drive membership for the organization until the final annual state convention was held in 2010.

The materials of this collection were donated by Jessie Parker Smith, LPN, a member of one of the first graduating classes of the Durham School of Practical Nursing. By the early 1950s, Smith was hired as an LPN at Duke Hospital, where she worked for more than 40 years. In 2006, Smith was recognized and honored as a member of a cohort of the first African American healthcare professionals hired by Duke, known as the Trailblazers. Fellow Trailblazers included Clydie Pugh-Myers, LPN, a graduate of the inaugural 1949 class of the Durham School of Practical Nursing. In her oral history, conducted by Jessica Roseberry in 2006, Pugh-Myers remembers that when the Durham School of Practical Nursing was established, the program "was only offered to [Black people]; it wasn't offered to whites at that time. And when we entered Duke, there wasn't any professional help [who were Black] there, nothing but floor workers, dish washers, and the kitchen help, and we were the first." Pugh-Myers, along with other LPNs in her graduating class, were the only Black professional nurses working in the then racially segregated white ward of Duke Hospital in the early 1950s. (Clydie Pugh-Myers' oral history is available under "Related Archival Materials.")

Jessie Parker Smith also speaks in detail about her career and affiliation with the NCLPNA in an oral history interview conducted by Patara Williams on June 13, 2022. (Jessie Parker Smith's oral history is available under "Related Archival Materials.") As an active member and Treasurer of the NCLPNA, Jessie Parker Smith was honored as a recipient of the Lillian Kuster Award, presented by the NFLPN. In her oral history, Jessie Parker Smith describes herself as the "last member" of the NCLPNA. As Treasurer, she oversaw the administrative and financial dissolve of the organization, coordinated the sale of the house at 214 South Driver Street, and assumed custody over the NCLPNA records until her decision to donate them to Duke University Medical Center Archives in March 2022.


American Nurses Association, "How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse," accessed January 2024,

Jessie Parker Smith Oral History Interview.

Clydie Pugh-Myers Oral History Interview.

Acquisition information:
Accession A2022.023 (gift by Jessie Parker Smith, March 2022)
Processing information:

Partially processed by Carter Hulinsky (January-May 2023) under the supervision of Lucy Waldrop; Processed by Kayla Cavenaugh (September 2023-April 2024) under the supervision of Lucy Waldrop

Organized into the following series: Administrative Records, 1946-2012, undated; Committees Task Forces, 1968-2005; Continuing Education Achievement Points, 1955-2001; Convention, 1961-2010; Correspondence, 1952-2008; Membership, 1947-2010, undated; Minutes, 1949-2010; Publications, 1948-2006, undated; and Subject Files, 1957-2004, undated.
Rules or conventions:


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This collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals or IRB approval may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which Duke University assumes no responsibility.

Boxes 2-11, 15-16, 20-21, and 23 must be screened for sensitive or confidential materials before being accessed. For further information consult with the Medical Center Archivist.

Box 25 must be screened for fragile materials before being accessed. For further information consult with the Medical Center Archivist.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], North Carolina Licensed Practical Nurses Association Records, Duke University Medical Center Archives.