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History of the Anna Maxwell Teaching Academy

The teaching academy at Columbia Nursing is named the Anna Maxwell Teaching Academy in honor of the school’s first director, an exemplary educator, and one of the earliest pioneers of nursing education in the United States.

Anna Maxwell was born in March of 1851 in Bristol, N. Y.; the eldest daughter of John Eglinton Maxwell, a native of Scotland, and his American born wife, Diantha Caroline Brown. Desiring a nursing education in 1878 Maxwell entered training at the Boston City Hospital Training School for Nurses and worked under Linda Richards. Shortly after graduation, she became the superintendent of the Training School for Nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital and established herself as an innovative nursing educator and a diplomatic administrator. In 1889, she became head of the training program at St. Luke’s hospital in NYC. She worked at St. Luke’s for two years until recruited by Presbyterian Hospital to establish an innovative nursing school.

The Presbyterian School of Nursing had rigorous requirements for entry as well as a demanding, scholarly program for graduation. While heading the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing, Maxwell also established the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nursing (1893), the Nurses’ Associated Alumni of the United States and Canada (1897), and several other organizations for nurses. These early nursing associations were forerunners to the American Nurses’ Association and the National League for Nursing. Her leadership was present on a legislative scale and she helped pass the 1903 Nurse Practice Act. She was busy at the school of nursing revising curriculum and promoting professional level nursing. She helped establish the visiting nursing service and military nursing while coauthoring with Amy Pope a book called Practical Nursing (1907). Maxwell retired in 1924 after a long career as an outstanding nursing educator, clinician, and image-maker.