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Madeleine M. Leininger Papers

Identifier: WSP000725
Series Description: Series 1: Correspondence, 1969-1995 Series 2: Writings, recordings, and related materials; 1961-1995 Series 3: Academic administration and teaching; 1956-1995 Series 4: Workshops and conferences; 1965-1995 Series 5: Consultations; 1971-1992 Series 6: Associations and organizations; 1968-1995 Series 7: Personal and biographical records; 1969-1995 Series 8: Dissertations; 1953, 1966-1992 Series 9: Audiovisual; 1967-1994


  • 1953 - 1995
  • Majority of material found within 1961 - 1995



Collection is open for research.
Patrons must make an appointment with the AV Department prior to visiting.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


16.5 Linear Feet (17 SB, 2 MB)


Throughout her career, Madeleine Leininger has been a pioneer and leader in promoting quality nursing care through transcultural understanding, a synthesis of nursing and anthropology that she created. Dr. Leininger had many firsts, including the Ethnonursing method, the first transcultural nursing field study, and the first course in transcultural nursing. She also founded several professional organizations, is a nationally and internationally known educator, author, theorist, administrator, researcher, consultant, and public speaker, and has won numerous honors and awards throughout her career. She has been a distinguished visiting professor and scholar at approximately 70 universities in the United States, Canada, and overseas, with expertise in transcultural nursing, comparative human care, qualitative research methods, cultural care theory, culture of nursing and health fields, anthropology, and the future of nursing. Dr. Leininger retired as professor emeritus from WSU on June 1, 1995. The papers in this collection reflect Dr. Leininger’s professional career as an educator and academic administrator (1956-1995), writer (1961-1995), lecturer (1965-1995), consultant (1971- 1992), and leader in the field of transcultural nursing (1966-1995).


Madeleine M. Leininger was born in Sutton, NE on July 13, 1925, lived on a farm with four brothers and sisters, and graduated from Sutton High School. She credits an aunt who suffered from congenital heart disease with encouraging her to enter the field of nursing. In 1945, the postdepression period, Madeleine and her sister entered the Cadet Nurse Corps and a diploma program at St. Anthony’s School of Nursing in Denver, CO. They were the only persons entering the nursing profession within several nearby counties. Madeleine Leininger went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science, with a minor in Philosophy and Humanistic Studies, from Benedictine College (formerly Mount St. Scholastica College) in Atchison, KS.

In 1950, Leininger opened a psychiatric nursing service and educational program at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. In 1954, she received a Master of Science in Nursing degree, with a minor in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and Psychology, at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She moved on to serve as Associate Professor of Nursing and Director of the Graduate Program in Psychiatric Nursing at the University of Cincinnati from 1954 to 1960. There she began the first graduate program in psychiatric nursing at the University, as well as the first clinical specialist program in child psychiatric nursing in the country. During this time she also co-authored one of the first psychiatric nursing texts, Basic Psychiatric Nursing Concepts (1960), which has been published in eleven languages and used worldwide.

Early in her career, Leininger observed that traditional psychiatric interventions did not adequately address the needs and behaviors of children of differing cultural backgrounds. While at the University of Cincinnati, she discussed her concerns regarding the influence of cultural factors in nursing care, as well as the potential of integrating the fields of nursing and anthropology, with visiting professor Margaret Mead. In search of answers, Leininger embarked upon a doctoral program in Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Washington in Seattle and, in 1965, became the first professional nurse to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology. Dr. Leininger was appointed Professor of Nursing and Anthropology at the University of Colorado in 1966 – the first joint appointment of a professor of nursing and a second discipline in the United States. She was Dean, Professor of Nursing, and Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Washington, School of Nursing from 1969 to 1974. In 1973, under her leadership, the University of Washington was recognized as the outstanding public institutional school of nursing in the United States.

From 1974 to 1980, Dr. Leininger served as Dean, Professor of Nursing, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah College of Nursing, and in 1981 she began her tenure at Wayne State University as Professor of Nursing and Director of the Center for Health Research at the College of Nursing, as well as Adjunct Professor of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts. While at Wayne State, Dr. Leininger won numerous awards, including the prestigious President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Board of Governors’ Distinguished Faculty Award, and the Gershenson’s Research Fellowship Award. In 1990, she was presented with the Women in Science Award from California State University, in addition to many other honors and awards she received throughout her career. Dr. Leininger retired as professor emeritus from Wayne State University on June 1, 1995.

Throughout her career, Dr. Leininger has been a pioneer and leader in promoting quality nursing care through transcultural understanding. In the early 1960s, she brought nursing and anthropology together to create the field of transcultural nursing – a formal area of nursing study and practice that focuses upon the comparative study of world cultures in order to provide culture specific and culture-universal nursing care. She developed her theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality, one of the earliest nursing theories, and coined the term “Culturally Congruent Care” as the goal of this theory. During this period, she also developed the Ethnonursing method, the first research methodology developed specifically for nursing studies. As a doctoral student in the mid-1960s, she conducted the first transcultural nursing field study, living alone with the Gadsup Tribe of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea. In 1966, Dr. Leininger developed the first course in transcultural nursing while a professor at the University of Colorado, and established the first masters and doctoral programs in transcultural nursing at the University of Utah in 1974. Since the mid 1960s, she has offered special undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral courses in transcultural nursing, human care, and qualitative research methods to nurses worldwide. She initiated certification of nurses in transcultural nursing, and has served as a research mentor and chairperson for numerous master, doctoral, and post-doctoral students. Dr. Leininger has also founded several professional organizations, including the Transcultural Nursing Society in 1974, and the International Association of Human Care in 1978, and served as first full-time president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. In addition, she established and served as first editor of the Journal of Transcultural Nursing from 1989 to 1995.


Arranged in 8 series – Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Boxes 1-3), Series 3 (Boxes 3-6), Series 4 (Boxes 7-12), Series 5 (Box 13), Series 6 (13-15), Series 7 (Boxes 15-16), Series 8 (Box 16), and Series IX (Box 17). Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Separated Materials

Materials in the Audiovisual Series were transferred to the Reuther Library's Audiovisual department.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in 2005.
Guide to the Madeleine M. Leininger Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

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