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.
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

Endometriosis

Women’s Health Past and Present: Myths, Mistakes and Experiences

  • 18 October 2018 5-8pm *on now

Join us for an evening of talks and activities to launch the Women’s Health exhibition. Try your hand at activities led by the Vagina Museum and the RCN Women’s Health Forum, from ring pessary hoopla to anatomical bunting. Talks include Anne Hanley on the history of gender politics in gynaecological and sexual health nursing, Tracey Loughran on women's health in post-war magazines and Katharine Gale on the journey to specialist nurses in gynaecology. Refreshments provided.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/womens-health-launch

Wandering Womb main exhibition image

The Wandering Womb: Women’s health nursing past and present

  • 18 October 2018 — 15 March 2019 *on now

Women have long been viewed as at the mercy of their biology. In the ancient medical world it was believed that a “wandering womb” could cause suffocation and death. Menstruation and childbearing were thought to make women weaker and less rational than men. Rising above these challenges, 100 years ago, women secured the right to vote in the UK. At the same time, nursing was formalised as a largely female profession.
Since then, nurses have taken a leading role in challenging generalisations about women’s health. However, myths and misconceptions remain widespread, while medical and social changes have altered our biology as well as attitudes. Women are starting periods earlier and living longer beyond the menopause. This exhibition addresses what has been seen as “normal” for women, past and present, and why women’s health long been considered “dirty” nursing.
Open Monday-Friday, 9-7pm and Saturday 9-5pm

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

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

Pandemic Archive

Pandemic! 1000 Years of Nursing Infection

  • 1 November 2018 — 30 April 2019

Disease is powerful. It can devastate communities and countries, threaten global security and challenge modern medicine and health care. This exhibition explores how nurses have responded to deadly outbreaks, from the so-called Spanish Flu epidemic after the First World War to more recent contagions, like HIV/AIDS, SARS and Ebola. Today the risks for the spread of disease are increasing. We travel more frequently and further than we ever have before. War continues to fracture populations and compromise access to basic sanitation. And with each class of antibiotics we develop, bacteria evolve to resist and survive.

Open to the public Monday, Tuesday and Friday 10am-4pm.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Where

Royal College of Nursing Scotland
RCN Scotland, 42 South Oswald Road,
Edinburgh
Scotland
EH9 2HH
Scotland

Website

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

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.
Future Gend Headshot

Acting Today for a Better Tomorrow: Health and Wellbeing for Future Generations

  • 24 October 2018 6-8pm

Sophie Howe is the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, a unique position in the UK. Hear about her work to improve the quality of life for the people of Wales, now and in the future. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception from 8-9pm. This event is funded by the RCN Foundation.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Where

Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Pl,
Cardiff Bay
CF10 5AL
Wales

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/rcn-foundation-public-lecture

Big Draw

Captured on Paper: Drawing with history

  • 25 October 2018 1:45-5pm, 5:45-9pm

See the past in a new light, by drawing objects which tell a history of mental health. This Big Draw event is a unique opportunity to create work inspired by the collections of Glenside Hospital museum. Examine historical objects which tell a story about mental health care and draw your impressions. Our event is friendly and informal, suitable for all levels.
Two workshops, 1.45-5pm and 5.45-9pm

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Tickets cost £12 (£10 for RCN members) to include all materials

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/big-draw-captured-on-paper

student debate

RCN Student Debate: #NHS70

  • 26 October 2018 5-7pm

Join us for a debate focusing on the future of the NHS: This house believes that in the 70th anniversary of the NHS 'free at the point of use' is no longer sustainable. Listen to speakers for both sides, and have your say. Open to all, and followed by a drinks reception from 7-8pm. This event is funded by the RCN foundation.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Where

Meadows Lecture Theatre
Old Medical school, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place,
Edinburgh
Scoltand
EH8 9AG

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/rcn-student-debate

Pandemic Exhibition Launch

Pandemics! Fighting Infection Past and Present - Exhibition Launch

  • 1 November 2018 5-7:30pm

Join us for the launch of our new exhibition, and find out about the past, present and future of infection control nursing during disease epidemics. Our speakers include Rose Gallagher. RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, Marguerite Dupree Honorary Professor University of Glasgow on her research on the history of infection control in hospitals and Elaine Ross, Infection Control Manager at NHS Dumfries & Galloway, on managing infection in today’s NHS. Refreshments will be provided.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Where

RCN Scotland Headquarters
42 South Oswald Road
Edinburgh
EH9 2HH
Scotland

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/pandemic-scotland-launch

Gender on the Agenda

RCN Fellows Lecture: Gender on the Agenda

  • 7 November 2018 5-7pm

2018 marks the centenary of female suffrage in the UK, yet many of us are still asking why gender equality has taken so long? Join us for the annual RCN Fellows lecture to discuss the connection between women’s rights and health around the world. What has been achieved in the century since women gained the vote, and what still needs to be addressed?

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/rcn-fellows-lecture-2018

Kristallnacht

'Please help us to carry on nursing': Jewish refugees and the nursing profession, 1938-45

  • 13 November 2018 5-7pm

From the anti-Jewish pogrom on 9 and 10 November 1938, known as Kristallnacht, increasing numbers of young German and then Austrian and Czechoslovakian Jewish women fled Nazi Europe for Britain, agreeing to train as nurses in return for refuge. Using a range of oral history interviews, official documents and correspondence in the nursing press, Jane Brooks will cast light on the lives of some of these women and the contribution they made to nursing in the twentieth century.

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/jewish-refugees-and-nursing

Winifred Raphael Memorial Lecture

Counting the cost of caring: The Winifred Raphael Memorial Lecture

  • 14 November 2018 6-8pm

To commemorate a century since the end of the First World War, the Research Society’s annual lecture focuses on health in the armed forces. Group Captain Di Lamb, PhD, outlines a novel approach to improving psychological resilience in the Defence Medical Services. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception from 8-9pm.

Where

Imperial War Museum North
Trafford Wharf Rd
Stretford
Manchester
M17 1TZ

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/winifred-raphael-memorial-lecture

Florence Nightingale and the Dying Soldier

My First Death

  • 16 November 2018 5:30-7:30pm

How do healthcare professionals cope with death? In what ways do our deaths affect them? Join us at the Royal College of Nursing for a frank, candid, and informal conversation about death, dying, and mourning. This event is part of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, in partnership with Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions.

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/my-first-death

Nursing, Poetry and the Women's Movement

Words and Deeds: Nursing, Poetry and the Women’s Movement

  • 13 December 2018 6:30-8:30pm

A free evening performance of music and poetry, celebrating women’s voices around the campaign for the vote. Audrey Ardern-Jones, nurse and poet, performs poetry by female authors involved in the campaign for women’s suffrage, together with international musicians Lucas Jordan (flute) Fabricio Mattos (guitar). The event will be introduced with a talk by Krista Cowman, Professor of History at the University of Lincoln, highlighting nurses involved in the suffrage movement and the connections between efforts by women’s professions to improve their working conditions and the women’s movement.

Where

The People’s History Museum
Left Bank
Spinningfields
Manchester
M3 3ER

Website

https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/events/words-and-deeds-manchester

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

Website

www.rcn.org.uk/library

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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