• Sally Austen Tom C.N.M., M.S.

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Sally Austen Tom holds a B.A. in Anthropology and religion and a B.S.N. from Duke University. She received her M.S. in Parent-Child Nursing and Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Utah and is currently on the faculty of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

  • This paper has been excerpted from Ms. Tom's unpublished Master's Thesis, “With Loving Hands: The Life Stories of Four Nurse-Midwives” © 1978 by Sally Tom. (A biographical account on Rose McNaught appeared in JNM Vol. 24, No. 2, March/April 1979, pp. 3–8.) Material for the biography of Agnes Shoemaker Reinders is drawn primarily from the answers she wrote to the interview questions. Material from other sources is found in separate references.

503 9th Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003.


Certainly, no history of women important in the development of nurse-midwifery would be complete without the biography of Agnes Shoemaker Reinders. While she was Sister Theophane Shoemaker, a member of the Medical Missionaries, she provided the impetus which culminated in the formation of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) through a vigorous letter writing campaign. The letters Sister Theophane wrote reveal the genesis of the ACNM as well as her great political savvy. Choosing different tactics with which to approach different people, she wrote letters designed to enlist each person in the goal of organizing nurse-midwives. To the president of the American Nurse's Association (ANA), she was firm and reasonable. To allies, she was warm and collegial. Despite many setbacks, she persisted tirelessly.

After leaving the religious order, she married, changed her name to Agnes Reinders, and went on to become the 1980 recipient of the Hattie Hemschemeyer Award.