Who we are Centennial

ICN History


The International Council of Nurses was born and raised on the busy intersection of woman's rights, social progressivism and healthcare reform. Though the idea and fundamental necessity of nursing are as old as the family and the tribe, the introduction of organised professional nursing only became a reality during the late 19th century.It was in an milieu ofgreat social change that a handful of women took up this new dimension of nursing.

The nurses who founded ICN were also deeply engaged in the international women's movement. It was the intoxicating mixture of the fight for women's rights and the development oforganised nursing that brought together ICN's forward thinking founders; Ethel Gordon Fenwick (England), Lavinia Dock (USA) and Agnes Karll (Germany) and gave birth t o the world'sfirst international organisation for health professionals and for women.


The 1893 World Congress of Representative Women, held at the Chicago World's Fair, was the catalyst for ICN's founding. It was therethat «the seed of the international nursing movement...so full of vitality, was then sown, » according to Ethel Fenwick . By 1899 the seed had germinated and Fenwick called upon nurses of various countriesto unite in an international nursing organisation. One year later the ICN constitution was approved, with Fenwick elected as president.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 August 2017 13:45