Dolan Collection

Historical artifacts on display

Josephine Dolan was the first professor of nursing at the UConn School of Nursing. She became interested in nursing history when she was assigned to teach the topic to students in the nursing program. In order to write a book on the history of nursing, Dolan collected materials from dealers or, in the case of the Ella Louis Wolcott letters, descendants of nursing pioneers. Dolan donated her collection of nursing artifacts to the UConn School of Nursing in 1996, and it is now on display in the School’s Widmer Wing.

The Iron Lung

An iron lung machine

Donated by the Veterans Home and Hospital in Rocky Hill in 2012, the Iron Lung is a centerpiece of the Dolan Collection. Technically known as a negative pressure ventilator (and made mostly of steel), the 500-pound device was used to help patients with compromised lung function breathe. The patient remained in the airtight container, with only his or her head protruding. Pressure inside the tank changed to manipulate the lungs into mimicking the mechanics of breathing.


A portrait of professor-in-residence Thomas Long.

Dr. Thomas Long, professor-in-residence, brings to the role of curator his training in the use of archives and special collections, his experience teaching with historical documents and realia, and a scholarly record of publications based on historical research. Beginning with early-modern research in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois in the 1970s, he has gone on to publish work based on his research in Yale’s Beinecke Library, the Dean and Chapter Library of Norwich Cathedral, the Library of Congress, and the LGBT Community Center National History Archive in New York.
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