Way back in 1896, delegates from 10 nurses’ alumni associations met at a hotel near New York City. Their goals? Elevating nursing education standards, setting principles of conduct, and promoting the professional status and general welfare of nurses.

The American Nurses Association was founded as a result of that meeting, and 125 years later ANA is stronger than ever. This brief timeline chronicles the people, places, and events that have highlighted ANA’s evolution from 1896 until today. Read more about ANA’s history in nursing practice, advocacy, health policy, and innovation.

  • Delegates from ten alumnae associations met at Manhattan Beach Hotel, near New York City, to organize a national professional association for nurses.
  • The Nurses' Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada is organized.
  • The first state nurses' associations are organized to work toward state laws to control nursing practice.
  • 52 Black nurses meet in New York City and found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses.
  • The Nurses’ Associated Alumnae changes its name to the American Nurses Association.
  • ANA delegates authorized association sections. The first involves private duty nursing and mental hygiene.
  • ANA appoints a Committee on the Status of Colored Graduate Nurses to establish lines of communication with the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses.
  • ANA adopts a tentative code of ethics for nurses.
  • ANA begins a study of registries and private duty nursing, formulating tentative standards for registries.
  • ANA's Special Committee on Reclassification submits a brief and specifications for civilian nursing service in the federal government.
  • ANA recommends a salary schedule for nurses comparable to those of other women workers, a 48-hour week for nurses practicing in institutions, and vacations with pay.
  • ANA proposes and joins the Nursing Council on National Defense, formed to coordinate activities of the profession on national and local levels during the national emergency.
  • ANA’s Professional Counseling and Placement Service is organized, providing counseling and job placement services without fee to all registered nurses.
  • ANA obtains professional status classification for nurses from the U. S. Civil Service Commission.

    The ANA House of Delegates endorses the 8-hour day, 40-hour week for all nurses and calls for eliminating discrimination against minority groups.
  • ANA’s House of Delegates adopts an intergroup relations program to work for full integration of nurses of all racial groups in all aspects of nursing.
  • The American Nurses’ Foundation is established as a separately incorporated ANA subsidiary.
  • ANA’s House of Delegates endorses health care as a right of all people and urges extension of social security to include health insurance for beneficiaries of old age, survivors, and disability insurance.
  • ANA is instrumental in having legislation introduced to raise the rank of chief nurses of the armed services nurse corps to top officer rank and to provide for an increased number of nurse officers.
  • ANA’s Board of Directors adopts a statement on the health hazards of smoking.

    ANA publishes The Nurse in Research: ANA Guidelines on Ethical Values.
  • ANA authorizes creation of a Council of Nurse Researchers and a Council on Continuing Education.
  • ANA’s Affirmative Action Task Force publishes Affirmative Action Programming for the Nursing Profession Through the American Nurses' Association, outlining a model affirmative action plan.
  • ANA presents the report, “Nursing and Long-Term Care: Toward Quality Care of the Aging” to the Senate Subcommittee on Long-Term Care.
  • Barbara Nichols is elected president of ANA, the first Black person to serve in this role.

    ANA supports and works for extension of the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights amendment.
  • ANA launches a national program to help alleviate the nursing shortage, emphasizing recruitment into nursing education programs and improving conditions for currently employed nurses.
  • ANA establishes The Center for Ethics and Human Rights.
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center is incorporated.

    Along with 42 other nursing organizations, ANA endorses “Nursing’s Agenda for Health Care Reform,” which describes the nursing profession’s proposal for reforming the nation’s healthcare delivery system.
  • ANA supports passage of health insurance portability legislation.
  • ANA secures language in the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2001 that recommends a study on the impact of extended work hours, especially mandatory overtime, on registered nurses and patient safety.
  • ANA supports the Flu Protection Act of 2005 (S. 375/ H.R. 813), which offers a comprehensive approach designed to prevent future vaccine shortages and prepare the nation for a potential flu pandemic.
  • The ANA Board of Directors endorses, “Consensus Model for APRN Regulations: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education,” a new cohesive approach to APRN practice.
  • ANA issues the position statement, “Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence,” which states that the nursing profession “will not tolerate violence of any kind from any source.”
  • ANA launches the ANA Enterprise, an umbrella organization for ANA, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the American Nurses Foundation.
  • ANA launches Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™, with the goal of improving the nation’s health by improving the health of all RNs.
  • Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, is elected as ANA President, the first man to serve in this role.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic hits the United States, ANA rapidly deploys and continually updates a COVID-19 Resource Center and issues seminal guidance documents. The American Nurses Foundation and ANA launches a series of surveys of nurses to inform decisions about how to best support them during and after this public health crisis. The American Nurses Foundation, in collaboration with funding partners develops a package of resources for nurses providing care during the pandemic.