Hildegard E. Peplau papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Barbara Bates Center for the Study of The History of Nursing [Contact Us]Claire Fagin Hall, 418 Curie Boulevard, Floor 2U, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-4217
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Barbara Bates Center for the Study of The History of Nursing. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Hildegard Elizabeth Peplau, whose career spanned more than a half century as a practitioner, teacher, leader, scholar, and theorist, was nationally and internationally known for her expertise in psychiatric and mental health nursing.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on September 1, 1909, the daughter of Gustav and Oltylie Elgert Peplau, she received a diploma from the Reading Evening High School (1928) and graduated from the Pottstown Hospital School of Nursing, Pottstown, Pennsylvania (1931). As a nursing student, she completed a student training experience at Norristown State Hospital, Pennsylvania, which is believed to have stimulated her interest in psychiatric care. She obtained a bachelor of arts in interpersonal psychology from Bennington College, Vermont (1943) and went on to receive both a master’s in psychiatric nursing (1947) and a doctorate in educational curriculum development (1953) from Columbia University, New York. She completed a certificate in psychoanalysis applied for teachers from the William Alanson White Institute, New York City, in 1954.
During World War II, Peplau served as a first lieutenant in the U. S. Army Nurse Corps. Her assignments included head nurse at Deshon General Hospital, Butler, Pennsylvania (May-November 1943) and the School of Military Neuropsychiatry in England (1943-1945). In April 1945 Peplau was assigned to the Stark Memorial General Hospital, Charleston, South Carolina, where she was received an honorary discharge from the U. S. Army Nurse Corps in July 1945.
Peplau returned to Columbia and served as instructor and director of the graduate program for advanced psychiatric nursing until 1953. She then joined the nursing faculty at The Rutgers University College of Nursing, Newark, New Jersey, and remained at Rutgers until 1974. Beginning as an instructor, she worked her way through the ranks to become chairman and then director of psychiatric nursing. During this period, she also maintained a part-time psychotherapy practice.
In 1948, Peplau completed a manuscript for the book Interpersonal Relations in Nursing, which was published in 1952. Her articles appeared in more than 30 journals beginning with her first article--on the health program at Bennington College--which appeared in Public Health Nursing in 1942. A number of her writings have been reprinted and several have been translated into other languages.
Her professional activities included serving on advisory boards and committees and providing consultation to professional organizations and health agencies. She was a member of the first expert advisory board to the World Health Organization and served as third vice-president of the International Council of Nurses (1977-1981). She also held several offices in the American Nurses Association including executive director (September 1969-May 1970), president (May 1970-May 1972), and second vice-president (1972-1974). Additionally she served as national nurse consultant to the surgeon general of the United States Air Force; nursing consultant to the United States Public Health Service; and consultant to the National Institute of Mental Health. From 1963 through 1987, she held a number of visiting university professorships in the U.S. and overseas.
Her contributions to health and nursing issues have been acknowledged through nine honorary doctorate degrees, including one from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland (1994). She received a number of distinguished awards including the American Academy of Nursing Living Legend Award (1995) and the Christiane Reimann Prize (1997). In 1998 she was inducted into the America Nurses Association Hall of Fame. She was the only nurse named one of “Fifty Great Americans” by Marquis Who’s Who and the Library of Congress (1995).
In 1984, Peplau moved to Sherman Oaks, California, to be near her daughter, Letitia Anne Peplau, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Letitia obtained a bachelor of arts degree from Brown University (1968) and a doctorate in social psychology from Harvard University (1973). She wrote and co-authored several books and numerous articles in the field of social psychology.
Hildegard Peplau died on March 17, 1999, in Sherman, California.
This collection consists primarily of papers on psychiatric nursing which Hildegard Peplau prepared and presented at conferences, workshops, and other professional activities. It also contains reprints of a number of her published articles. In addition the collection contains several reprints of articles by Hildegard Peplau’s daughter, the social psychologist Letitia Peplau.
Gift of Letitia Anne Peplau and Shirley A. Smoyak.
These papers were brought to the Center’s attention by Dr. Peplau’s former colleague, Professor Shirley Smoyak of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, who located the material at Rutgers in 2002. Professor Smoyak transferred the papers to the Center, and, with Smoyak’s assistance, the Center was able to contact Peplau’s daughter, Letitia Anne Peplau, who donated the material.
- Health policy
- Military nursing
- Nursing Theory
- Nursing--Government policy--United States
- Psychiatric nursing
- Social psychology
- United States. Army Nurse Corps
- World War, 1939-1945--Medical care
- University of Pennsylvania: Barbara Bates Center for the Study of The History of Nursing
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Rita Beatty, updated by Bethany Myers
- Access Restrictions
This collection is unrestricted.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Center with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.
This series contains biographical information including material which was collected in order to nominate Dr. Peplau for honorary degrees and recognitions.
This series contains materials pertaining to Peplau’s work in developing the graduate program in advanced psychiatric nursing at Rutgers. Included are files relating to planning and implementing the Hildegard E. Peplau Lectures Series which began in 1981.
The bulk of this series consist of papers presented at colleges, universities, and professional association meetings in the U.S. and overseas from 1952-1984. Additionally, the files contain copies and reprints of a number of Peplau’s publications (See box list below).
Included in this series is a guidebook for a film focusing on nurse-patient relationship published by the American Nurses Association and the National League for Nursing in cooperation with Smith Kline and French Laboratory in 1958. There is a chapter concerning the role of nursing in psychiatry and a review of Opportunities in a Psychiatric Career.
This series documents Peplau’s involvement with conferences at colleges and universities. Included are materials from “Illness – A Family Crisis,” Professional Nursing Conference on Mental Health, Texas Nurses Association, Lubbock, Texas, 1966; “Integrating Psychiatric Nursing Principals Into the General Curriculum,” University of California School of Nursing, San Francisco, California, 1963; and from studies such as “A Shift in Thinking: Instrument and Manual for Understanding Behavior” (1951 and 1964).
This series includes curriculum vitae, reprints, and copies of Letitia Peplau’s writings on loneliness and sexuality.
This series consist of three photographs of individuals who presented at a nursing conference.