Let us first begin by saying Hi to the theorist who inspired us and this blog. Join us in knowing her and what made her into the nurse that she was. Let us also see how bountiful her contributions to our profession. Ladies and gentlemen, Virginia Avenel Henderson!

Virginia Avenel Henderson
“First Lady of Nursing”
“The Nightingale of Modern Nursing”
“Modern-Day Mother of Nursing”
“The 20th Century Florence Nightingale”

"The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge" 

This is the famous definition of Nursing of Virginia Avenel Henderson

Figure 1. Yahoo! images of Virginia Henderson

A video clip of Virginia Henderson talking about her childhood.

A modern legend in nursing, Virginia A. Henderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 30, 1897. She was the fifth of eight children and had a family history of scholars and educators. Virginia was named for her mother's (Lucy Minor (Abbot) Henderson) native state and later educated there at a boys school run by her grandfather. Her father is a lawyer by profession named Atty. Daniel B. Henderson.

  • Early education at home in Virginia with her aunts, her sister and an uncle, Charles Abbot, at his school for boys in the community Army School of Nursing, Washington, D.C.
  • Graduated in 1921 at Teachers College, Columbia University (Bachelor of Science degree completed in 1931 while Masters of Science degree in 1934)
  • Honorary doctoral degrees from the Catholic University of America, Pace University, University of Rochester, University of Western Ontario, Yale University

Career in Nursing:
Virginia Avenel Henderson has been called the "first lady of nursing" and the "first truly international nurse." Her writing, her presentations and her research and contacts with nurses have profoundly affected nursing and impacted the recipients of care by nurses throughout the world. Among them are as follows:
  • Henry Street Visiting Nurse Association, New York, New York (1921)
  • Visiting Nurse Association, Washington, D.C. (1923-1924)
  • Norfolk Protestant Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia as an Instructor and Educational Director (1924-1929)
  • Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia as an early advocate for the inclusion of psychiatric nursing in the curriculum and served on a committee to develop such a course (1929)
  • Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, New York as a Supervisor and Clinical Instructor at the Outpatient Department (1930)
  • Teachers College, Columbia University, New York as an Instructor and Associate Professor (1934-1948) where her revision of Bertha Harmer's Textbook of the Principles and Practice of Nursing became widely used.
  • She published her book, Nature of Nursing, expressed her belief about the essence of nursing and influenced the hearts and minds of those who read it (1966).
  • Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, Connecticut as a Research Associate (1953-1971) and as a Research Associate Emeritus (1971-1996)

Honors and Awards:
The honors bestowed on Henderson are numerous. To mention just a few, she held honorary degrees from thirteen universities; she was selected at the American Nurses Associations Hall of Fame and had the Sigma Theta Tau International Library named in her honor. She was honored by the Virginia Nurses Association in 1988 when the Virginia Historical Nurse Leadership Award was presented to her. In 2000, the Virginia Nurses Association recognized Henderson as one of fifty-one Pioneer Nurses in Virginia. She was also the recipient of the Virginia Historical Nurse Leader Award and was awarded the first Christianne Reimann Prize in June 1985 due to the transnational scope of her work. She received honorary doctorate degrees from the prestigious universities like University of Western Ontario, University of Rochester, Yale University, Rush University, Pace University, Catholic University of America, Old Dominion University, Boston College, Thomas Jefferson University, Emory University and many others. She was also a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame.

Last days:
Her ending had the warmth, style, and graciousness of her life. After partaking chocolate cake and ice cream and saying goodbyes to her family and friends, she passed from one dimension to another.

Virginia Avenel Henderson died on March 19, 1996 at the age of 98 at Branford, Connecticut.

Figure 2. A Timeline of Henderson's Life.
 -Princess Shyne Austria
-Moses John Tajanlangit


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