1. Mason, Diana J. PhD, RN, FAAN

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Dear Sophia,


Your portrait hangs in a corridor here at our office, reminding me of my legacy. I see a lot of pride in you, a touch of aristocracy (that high collar looks much too tight), and a hint of something that says "don't mess with me." Sometimes, when I'm working late at night and no one is around, I ask your portrait, "So, what would you do?" Often, I'm left with clear direction.


One hundred years ago, you launched the American Journal of Nursing and wrote its first editorial. Could you imagine the journal surviving for a century? Could you envision what it would look like? You must have had every editor's nightmares-meeting deadlines, stocking sufficient manuscripts to publish, maintaining financial viability-but what other worries plagued you? FIGURE 1

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Of course, you know mine from my evening chats with you. I continue to wonder whether we're making the best use of our pages. Sometimes I think we're setting a new standard for professional publishing-combining creativity and science, innovation and wit. But other times I wonder whether our readers want the depth and range of what we publish. I find myself hoping the answer is yes, and preparing to leave if the answer is no. And I worry that readers will one day not want a print publication-that they'll want to do all of their reading online.


I want AJN to be the leading source of information for and about nursing, not just for nurses but for the entire health care field and the public. Are my expectations too unrealistic? On good days, I love the challenge this presents, but on the not-so-good days, I take deep breaths and wonder: Do we take the risks, or play it safe? FIGURE 2

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We've received lots of mail about a poem we published in July. We knew some readers wouldn't like it because of its "crude" language but hoped that for most it would evoke the complex emotions many women have about mammography. Although some letter writers found it moving, most thought we showed poor judgment in publishing it. What would you have done? I imagine you as a bold woman who would take risks to move the journal ahead, to propel nursing forward. Should I do otherwise?


Thirty years of nursing have taught me that preserving the status quo is not good enough. I want nurses to take more risks on behalf of patients and the profession. So why shouldn't AJN? In February, we published a study that received national news coverage, causing many nurses to cheer-AJN on the nightly news! The attention to the study, which showed favorable outcomes when family members are allowed to be present during codes and invasive procedures, is changing practice. That's what I believe AJN should be about.


You'll see in the old AJN letters to the editor we've reprinted in this issue that many of nurses' early struggles have endured throughout the years-adequate pay, control over the work environment, education. I sometimes feel quite discouraged about the state of health care in this country, and I struggle with whether I should acknowledge that discouragement or be a cheerleader for nurses. I presume that you must have been hopeful about the future of nursing and health care at the turn of the century. But were you?


Your vision for AJN seemed so. You saw the journal as a communication vehicle for organized nursing. Today, AJN is the official journal of the ANA, which sponsors four columns each month. For all non-ANA pages, I've insisted on the kind of editorial independence that you championed in your first editorial in 1900:


It will be the policy of the magazine to lend its pages freely to the discussion of subjects of general interest, presenting every question fairly and without partisanship, giving full recognition to all persons offering a suggestion that shall be in line of nursing progress....


We've recently created a new vision statement for the journal:


AJN will be the leading broad-based clinical nursing journal used by nurses, and the leading resource on nursing for the health care community and the public. It will be the most frequently cited nursing journal in the public media as a result of its reputation as a timely source of important, credible information and perspectives on nursing and health care.


Thank you for the foresight that you and your colleagues had in 1900. You left a legacy that I intend to perpetuate.


With admiration