On 24 September 1912, Bergljot Larsson called in 'sisters' from the whole of Norway to discuss the establishment of an association for educated nurses. A few hours after the meeting took place, the Norwegian Nursing Association (NNA) was born, one of the last nursing associations to be founded in Scandinavia; Finland, Denmark and Sweden had already established their organizations. The decision to found the NNA was not made overnight. The idea was conceived not long after Larsson started to work as a nurse and was nurtured during her stay in Scotland from 1909 to 1911. By the time she attended her first international nursing congress, at Cologne in August 1912, preparations in Norway were almost complete. In the processes that led up to the final establishment of the NNA, inspiration, ideas, knowledge and support were provided by a range of individuals and institutions both within and beyond Norway. Larsson was the first president of the NNA, a position she held for twenty-three years.
This chapter argues that Larsson's formative work experience abroad, and her professional contact with European nursing leaders, informed the initiative she took in founding the NNA. Her experiences abroad were also of great significance for her further actions as a leader of the organization. In the first part of the chapter, priority is given to the period of her life passed in Edinburgh. During her stay in the Scottish capital, she met members of the British women's movement and supporters of the British campaign for state registration. These encounters contributed to the creation of her fundamental views regarding women and nursing. The ways in which these views or visions were nurtured during her stay are also traced. In the last part of the chapter, a further argument is proposed that Larsson's visions were crucial for the founding of the NNA itself, and influenced the issues and projects she promoted during her time as leader. As regards her contact with European nursing leaders, it is proposed that these contacts provided practical insights and the encouragement she needed to transform her visions and ideas into the reality of the NNA.
When Larsson left Norway in 1909 'to study nursing in Edinburgh', an expression she used herself, she was twenty-six years old. After a one-year training course in
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Publication information: Book title: New Directions in the History of Nursing:International Perspectives. Contributors: Barbara Mortimer - Editor, Susan McGann - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 40.
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