Ninth ICN Congress, Atlantic City, USA

There was an interval of 10 years between the 1937 Congress in London and the next Congress in Atlantic City, USA, in May 1947. The ninth Congress, hosted by the American Nurses’ Association, was attended by 6,592 nurses from 40 countries. Gerda Höjer (read more) from Sweden was elected President under the Watchword, “Responsibility”.

Sessional presentations included topics on professional education; the functions of professional organisations in taking care of the working conditions of nurses; minimum requirements for nurse education; development of industrial nursing; shortage of nurses and methods to beat it; recent legislation as it affected nurses in Great Britain and International relief work for nurses. A speech was given by an outstanding scientist on the peacetime use of atomic power.

Prior to the Congress, the Board of Directors and the Grand Council of ICN met in Washington, D.C. The President, Executive Director, Treasurer and the Chairman of all Committees made their reports at this meeting. Resolutions from national nurses associations were placed on the agenda and, following approval by the Board, were transmitted to the Grand Council for adoption.

During the Grand Council, general policies and work for the next quadrennial period were outlined including the establishment of Committees in the Ethics of Nursing, Exchange of Nurses, Nursing Service and Economic Welfare. Elected Officers for the next quadrennial were: Gerda Höjer (Sweden) President; Mary Lambie (New Zealand) First Vice President; Katherine J. Densford (United States) Second Vice-President; Grace M Fairley (Canada), Third Vice-President, and G. E Davies (Great Britain) Treasurer. Anna Schwarzenberg resigned as Executive Secretary. (ICN 1947)

In designating the significance of this post-war period, on 8 May 1947, during the Congress, a letter was sent to ICN’s President Effie J. Taylor by Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, expressing his best wishes for the continued success of ICN with the following sentiment:

“Nurses of the United States, like those of our Allies, worked unstintingly in the service of their country during the war in providing care for the disabled. They shared the hardships of combat, asking no reward except the knowledge that their sacrifices enabled others to live. Today the need for nurses is no less than during the war years. Shattered bodies and minds lie in the wake of the most destructive war in history. The sick must be nursed back to health.”

ICN (1947) 1947 Board of Directors Meeting ICN IX Quadrennial Congress, Atlantic City, N. J., United States of America The International Nursing Bulletin (1947) Vol III (1) November:1-3

The Return to London

Originally established in London in 1899, ICN headquarters had move to Geneva in 1927. This decision had been made because of its central location, the neutrality of Switzerland, because the League of Nations was based there, and because Switzerland had no national nurses association affiliated to ICN. In 1937, the question was again raised as to whether the headquarters should remain in Geneva or be moved to London, Paris or Brussels. The Swiss Nurses Association had applied for membership in 1937 and ICN staff reported feeling isolated in Geneva. It was therefore decided that the headquarters would move to London (51 Palace Street). But World War II had meant another move for headquarters in 1939, first to Effie Taylor’s home in Connecticut and then to New York – the USA being a neutral country in the war at this time. After the war, in 1947, there was again discussion as to whether the headquarters should be in London or Geneva, but the Board finally agreed to return to London where headquarters had been just prior to the war. New premises were found at 19 Queen’s Gate, London.


ICN Congress Participants, Atlantic City


1947 Effie Taylor and Dame Ellen Musson

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