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American College of Nurse-Midwives Records 1910-1999
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Historical Note

The American College of Nurse-Midwifery (ACNM) was incorporated on November 7, 1955 as the professional organization for certified nurse-midwives in the United States. Previous to the establishment of the ACNM, the extent of national organization for nurse-midwives had been limited to a section of the National Organization of Public Health Nurses (NOPHN) in the mid-1940s. When, in the early 1950s, the NOPHN was absorbed into the American Nurse's Association (ANA) and the National League for Nursing (NLN), the nurse-midwives found that there was no central body left available to address the specific needs and concerns of the growing practice of nurse-midwifery. In response, a Committee on Organization, chaired by Sister M. Theophane Shoemaker, was established in 1954 to begin steps toward the creation of the new professional organization. A questionnaire was mailed out, and armed with the responses of some 147 nurse-midwives, the Committee determined to create the ACNM.

The first annual meeting of the American College of Nurse-Midwifery was held on November 12-13, 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri. Hattie Hemschemeyer, then director of the Maternity Center Association School of Nurse-Midwifery, was elected the College's first President. The following year, the ACNM was accepted into the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). In 1969, the College merged with the smaller, regional American Association of Nurse-Midwives to become the American College of Nurse-Midwives, as it is called today. Beginning from a charter membership of 124 nurse-midwives in 1955, the College grew to 850 members in 1975, and numbers over 7000 members, including students, in the year 2000. The College estimates that approximately 87 percent of certified nurse-midwives are members of the ACNM in 2000.

Until the 1980s the College primarily functioned in the United States. With the addition of the International Project for Traditional Birth Attendants in the early 1980s the College began doing work in Africa, London and other parts of the world. The Special Projects Section began in 1985 after receiving a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Through the Special Projects Section the College was able to service more countries and widen its scope of services.

The ACNM began publication of the Bulletin of the American College of Nurse-Midwifery (later the Bulletin of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery) in 1955. The College began publication of its Newsletter (later titled Quickening) in 1965. That year, the ACNM began work as an accrediting organization of educational programs in nurse-midwifery with its first site visit to the New York Medical Center. The American College of Nurse-Midwives Foundation, Inc., was established in 1967 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the practice of nurse-midwifery. In 1971 the ACNM became the national certifying body for Certified Nurse-Midwives, a duty later fulfilled by the distinct ACNM Certification Council.

Sources: The American College of Nurse-Midwives Homepage, on the Internet at, and The ACNM Certification Council Homepage, at