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Gateway to Women's History

About the Collection Curator: Tony Paterniti, Ph.D., R. N.

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Tony Paterniti was the first in his family to graduate from college. He began his basic education in nursing at the community college in his hometown of Jamestown, New York and took his first job as a nurse in critical care in the WCA Hospital also in Jamestown. After relocating to Texas, Tony attended Texas Woman’s University (TWU) where he earned an MS in Nursing and the University of North Texas where he completed his Ph.D.

A long nursing career included faculty appointments at Texas Woman’s University and the University of Texas at Arlington. He is currently on the faculty in the College of Nursing at Grand Canyon University where he teaches in the master’s and doctoral programs. Paterniti also enjoyed a long career with Methodist Health System in Dallas, Texas where he served in several leadership and education positions, which included Nurse Manager, Nurse Supervisor, Director of Nurses, Education Specialist and Director of Education. He also was a home health nurse for several years.

Paterniti’s interest in Florence Nightingale began in 1980 with the purchase of the first edition of Notes on Nursing. When he asked why the book was so inexpensive at $125, the book dealer told him, “Your profession does not appreciate its history the way medicine does.” Although he did not acquire other Nightingale memorabilia for several years, the thought of nurses not appreciating their history never escaped him. As he grew and developed professionally, his interest in nursing deepened into a passion which led him to a place where he began adding to his first acquisition of the first modern textbook in nursing.

Once his interest in Nightingale was renewed, Paterniti began adding more books, which included books from Florence Nightingale’s personal library, letters, one of which was written on behalf of a soldier when she was in the Crimea, notes, statuary, a Nightingale Nursing School pin, and many original documents highlighting her life and achievements and announcing her death and burial. The issues of the American Journal of Nursing and Nursing Mirror announcing Nightingale’s death are among the original documents in the collection as is the Florence Nightingale Memorial Program and admission ticket to the memorial service.

More than 35 years later, Paterniti’s collection of objects, telling the story of Florence Nightingale, has grown to fill many display cases in the Blagg-Huey library at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas where the collection is on display.

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The Florence Nightingale Digital Archive represents Tony Paterniti's personal collection of ephemera, books, artifacts, letters, and other materials related to Florence Nightingale. Paterniti's connection to Florence Nightingale is an aspirational one; Nightingale represents the nursing profession and her history is the history of nursing. Over time, Paterniti has devoted years of research to bring together this unique collection of materials that gives a fuller picture to the guiding light of the nursing profession.

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From the Curator

Tony Paterniti speaks about his passion for Florence Nightingale and her legacy to the nursing profession.

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