In 1982, I was part of a group of nurses attending the American Nurses’ Association convention began to feel urgent about bringing a feminist voice to nursing. The year and month (June 1982)marked the death of the U.S. Equal Right Amendment for our constitution, and the convention was being held in our nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. All over the city there were demonstrations protesting this dreaded end of an era of struggle for equal rights for women, and celebrations of possibilities for moving forward despite this defeat.
However, at the ANA convention, there was hardly a mention of this significant time. By and large, the nurses at the convention were caught up in what seemed to us (in comparison) parochial concerns of who would be elected as officers, and petty issues concerning atire for a banquet.
So we formed Cassandra: Radical Feminist Nurses Network. Charlene Eldridge Wheeler volunteered to work with me and a “web” of Cassandrans in Buffalo, New York, to publish our Newsjournal. Charlene designed our logo and the Newsjournal layout, and together we served as “editors,” authors, and organizers. We published Newsjournals 3 times a year for almost 7 years without the benefit of email and the World Wide Web; all of those publications are posted here to document our history as it was lived at the time (see the links in the right sidebar).
The Cleveland Web (shown in the photo above) has established an archive of Cassandra materials at the Medical Heritage Center, Prior Health Sciences Library, The Ohio State University 376 W. 10th Ave. Columbus, OH 43210. Here is a PDF that shows details of the collection!
In 2008 Paula Kagan, a nurse faculty member at DePaul University, began work on a documentary film of Cassandra’s history. Cassandra has never “died” … the image and the concepts have been sustained in many different forms over the years. The legacy that the women of Cassandra established – a feminist voice in nursing lives on!