Interview with Barbara Spradley

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Interview with Barbara Spradley

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University of Minnesota


Oral History


Spradley begins by discussing her time in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Spradley describes spending several years in Arkansas while her husband was stationed at Fort Chaffee. She goes on to describe her experiences working as a public health nurse in Washington State. Spradley discusses her husband’s anthropological work and his recruitment to Macalester College, which led to their move to Minnesota. She discusses the tenure process at the University of Minnesota and fighting to have her work publishing textbooks considered as scholarly work by the committee. She discusses some of the politics of the School of Public Health during her time there, including interactions with Henry Blackburn, Barbara Leonard, and others. Spradley also talks about gender equality issues in the School.


Barbara Spradley was born and raised in China to missionary parents. She and her family returned to the United States during World War II after being detained as prisoners by the Japanese in 1943. Spradley received an associates degree in nursing in 1953 from University of California, Los Angeles. In 1956 she earned a bachelors in nursing from University of Southern California and an RN from the Huntington Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Pasadena California. She was an instructor in public health nursing at the University of Washington in 1967 and a staff public health nurse at Seattle-King County Health Department from 1968 to 1969. In 1969 she began her Minnesota career as the assistant supervisor of public health nursing at the Minneapolis Combined Nursing Service. She has been an instructor, assistant professor, adjunct faculty member, and associate professor at the College of St. Catherine and the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. She became assistant director of the Program in Public Health Nursing in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in 1983.

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Tobbell, Dominique A.; Spradley, Barbara. (2011). Interview with Barbara Spradley. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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