Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre

Historic nursing poster
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The Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre is home to Europe’s largest nursing specific collection of materials.

Our venue includes publicly accessible exhibitions, a cafe and a shop within the Library space. Our Nursing History Collection enables visitors to browse nursing history texts, access some of our historic printed collection and to browse smaller displays curated with the RCN History of Nursing Society.

Venue Type:

Library, Museum

Opening hours

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm (closed Saturdays in August)

Admission charges

Entry is free, and no booking is required. There may be a charge for some services.

The Collection dates mainly from the 1850s onwards, though some earlier items are held. It comprehensively collects English language materials, focusing on nursing in the UK:
• 60,000+ Books and Pamphlets (dating from 1666 to present) including a significant collection of rare books and of grey literature
• 350 + Journals (1888 to present) print copies of journals, newsletters and magazines (in addition there are 1000+ contemporary e-journal subscriptions)
• 1,000+ Theses (1950s to present)
• RCN Archives (1890s to present)
• 725+ Personal Archives (1817 to present) including certificates
• 20 Organisational Archives (1887 to present) from organisations such as Commonwealth Nurses Federation; National Council of Nurses; Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses
• 625+ Interviews, Oral History Collection (1986 to present)
• Objects Collection: including 5,000+ photographs and lantern slides; 3,000+ medals and badges; 150+ audio recordings; 105+ videos and films; 150+ objects

Collection details

Medicine

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Exhibition entrance photograph with 1916 furniture

The Voice of Nursing: Celebrating 100 years of the RCN

  • 4 January 2016 — 22 December 2017 *on now

Since 1916 the Royal College of Nursing has pioneered professional standards for nurses, shaped health policies and promoted excellence in practice. In this exhibition, we invite you to explore how nursing has changed over the past 100 years. With stories from nurses themselves and items from our unique collections, discover how the RCN has developed from a small professional women’s organisation to become the Voice of Nursing in 2016.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Visiting details and opening times can be found on our website. Tours available for booked groups.

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/library/exhibitions-and-events/exhibitions

Photograph of two female nurses

Hidden in Plain Sight: Celebrating Nursing Diversity

  • 11 October 2017 — 10 March 2018 *on now

The nursing workforce is diverse, with healthcare workers representing a huge variety of backgrounds and experiences. This exhibition celebrates the contributions of some of the people whose work and lives have too often been overlooked. Here we highlight just a few of these disparate stories from the RCN collections, including the role of lesbian nurses in the First World War, the contributions of Black and Minority Ethnic nurses throughout the mid twentieth century, and the ways in which deaf mental health nurses have improved services for deaf patients at pioneering hospitals around England in the last few decades.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Any age

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/library/exhibitions-and-events/exhibitions

For Queen and Country: Nursing, Trauma, and War

For Queen and Country: Nursing, Trauma and War

  • 1 November 2017 — 3 June 2019 *on now

Throughout history conflicts have affected the physical and mental health of service personnel and civilians. From the Crimean War in 1853, when trained nurses were first posted to a war zone, to Afghanistan in 2014, each conflict has presented a unique challenge and injury pattern, while the environment and the threat of disease causes even more casualties than the battlefield. Nurses doing their duty for ‘Queen and Country’ provide skilled, compassionate care to anyone at every stage of the patient experience. This is their story.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Where

RCN Scotland
42 South Oswald Road
Edinburgh
EH9 2HH
Scotland

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/library/exhibitions-and-events/exhibitions

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Nurses and children in First World War

“Mummy, what did you do in the war?” Nursing Family History Workshop

  • 18 November 2017 10:30am-4:30pm *on now

Find out how to research your Great War family history, with a focus on nursing and VAD stories. The day will feature a mixture of talks and practical sessions, from exploring nursing records online to creative writing and where to start with family history. Speakers include family history expert Kirsty Gray, nurse and poet Molly Case, and Dick and Lisa Robinson, who will talk about Dick's great aunt, First World War nurse Edith Appleton.

Tickets are £16 (£12 RCN Members). Lunch and tea and coffee is included

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

Tickets are £16 (£12 RCN Members). Lunch and tea and coffee is included.

Website

https://nursingfamilyhistory.eventbrite.co.uk

Being Human

Emotional Objects: from Lost Amulets to Found Photos

  • 20 November 2017 2-9pm

A lost necklace received as a gift from a loved one, a stash of photographs found in a dusty attic… What objects are you emotionally attached to, and what feelings do they conjure up? Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions hosts a pop-up world of activities, talks and performances investigating what we feel about objects. Expect puppetry workshops, emotional talismans and displays of healing objects. Free, book online at
www.beinghumanfestival.org

Website

https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/emotional-objects-from-lost-amulets-to-found-photos/

Confessions of a male nurse

Confessions of a Male Nurse: stereotypes and the battle for recognition

  • 23 November 2017 5:30-7pm

When did men first become nurses? In mental health care, male attendants worked in the men’s wards at asylums from the beginning of the nineteenth century, and in private madhouses even earlier. For International Men’s Day, historian Louise Hide explains who these men were, and how they fought for recognition in an increasingly feminised profession. When registration for nurses was introduced in 1919, however, trained male nurses were kept on a supplementary register, and men weren’t able to join the RCN until as late as 1960. Martin Johnson, who qualified in 1974, talks about what it was like training and working as a man in a largely female world.
This event will be live subtitled.

Languages

  • Live subtitled.

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/confessions-of-a-male-nurse

Thinking critically about gender

Thinking critically about gender: Trans experiences and history

  • 5 December 2017 5:30-7pm

History can offer important lessons on gender: it is only in the last two centuries that a rigid, two-sex model of humanity has been assumed. Find out more about the history of sex and gender from cultural historian Thomas Laqueur, while learning lessons for the future from the experiences of trans nurse Rachael Ridley.
This event will be live subtitled.

Languages

  • Live subtitled

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/confessions-of-a-male-nurse-tickets-37337003984

Patients waiting to see the doctor, with figures representing their fears

Better Mental Health: the Beyond Words approach

  • 14 December 2017 6-9pm

Baroness Sheila Hollins, Professor of Psychiatry of Disability at St George's University of London and former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, explains how mental health patients deserve a system that is humane, ethical and principled. The lecture will look at promoting the development of empathy for vulnerable groups, and show how the Beyond Words approach using pictures without words can enhance clinical communication.
This event will be live subtitled and followed by a drinks reception.

Languages

  • Live Subtitles

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/better-mental-health-the-beyond-words-approach-tickets-37091108504

Invisible illness

Invisible Illness: Pain beneath the surface

  • 6 February 2018 5:30-7pm

What’s it like to live with a hidden disability? And how can society better support people with invisible conditions? Find out more about the experience of chronic pain, dyslexia and other hidden disabilities.

Where

Great North Museum: Hancock
Barras Bridge
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE2 4PT
England

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/invisible-illness-pain-beneath-the-surface-tickets-37337953825

Emails from the Edge

Emails from the Edge: Letters Home from War

  • 6 February 2018 4-6pm

Find out more about life on the front line through this reading of genuine letters and emails from nurses in the armed forces to their friends and families. Letters from the archive, such as Pat Moody’s notes written from “the same bloody hospital”, offer an evocative account of nursing in the First and Second World Wars. Today, emails have replaced letters yet the accounts of currently serving nurses are no less affecting. This live reading recounts the truly human story of health care in conflict.

Where

RCN Scotland Learning Hub
42 South Oswald Road
Edinburgh
EH9 2HH
Scotland

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/emails-from-the-edge-letters-home-from-war-tickets-37340802345

LGBT History Month

Love and War: Lesbian contributions to healthcare past and present

  • 22 February 2018 5:30-7pm

While we are all familiar with tales of nursing in World War One, we hear much less about those women who served alongside their female lovers. Jane Mackelworth explores the lives of a small handful of such women, particularly Vera ‘Jack’ Holme. This diversity continues to be valued in a health care environment. Jayne King, leader of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ LGBT staff forum celebrates the contributions of lesbian health workers today.
This event will be live subtitled, and followed by a drinks reception and exhibition viewing from 7-8pm.

Languages

  • Live subtitles

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lgbt-history-month-reception-nursing-in-the-great-war-tickets-37338334965

How to get published

How to get published

  • 28 February 2018 2-5pm

Ever wondered how to get your clinical practice, research or opinion pieces published? Hear from published authors, including Professor Ian Peate OBE FRCN about their experiences of publishing in books and journals.

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-get-published-tickets-37342537535

Creativity & Compassion: Women Writer's

Creativity & Compassion: Women Writers

  • 8 March 2018 2-4pm

For International Women’s Day, we celebrate the value of arts for health with a focus on nurse writers and artists. Olwen Morgan, singer and artist, will perform her work while children’s writer Michele Pengelly talks about the value of creativity in nursing for young people.

Where

RCN Wales Library and Information Service
Ty Maeth
Cardiff
CF14 4XZ

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creativity-and-compassion-women-writers-in-health-tickets-37341271749

Studies in the History of Science and Trauma

Studies in the History and Science of Trauma

  • 15 March 2018 6-9pm

Professor Joanna Bourke is an expert on social and cultural history. Over the years, she has worked on the history of the emotions, particularly fear and hatred, and the history of sexual violence. Most recently, her research has focussed on questions of humanity, militarisation, and pain, and the relationship between patient and nurse.

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/studies-in-the-history-and-science-of-trauma-tickets-37340207566

Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre
20 Cavendish Square
London
Greater London
W1G 0RN
England

Website

www.rcn.org.uk/development/library_and_heritage_services

E-mail

rcn.library@rcn.org.uk

Telephone

0345 337 3368

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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