Ref NoT
TitleRoyal College of Nursing Oral History Collection
DescriptionA collection of oral history interviews with nurses, nursing leaders, Department of Health, National Health Service and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members and staff from across the United Kingdom and some from overseas. All of the individuals have some vital connection to nursing and relate information about themselves and their careers and experiences in nursing. Most include comments about nursing as a profession politically or historically and some refer to important developments, changes or events.
The date given in each record is the range of dates discussed during the interview and may represent either the individual's birth date or the start of their career. It is not the date of recording. Most of the interviews were originally recorded on cassette, some on minidisk and more recently digitally as mp3 or wav files. Where possible the RCN Archives has converted these to wav files, with mp3 copies. Interview transcriptions and recordings are only available by appointment on-site either at the RCN Archives in Edinburgh or at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre in London under supervision. Copying is not allowed, but permission can be arranged for use of extracts.

Over 400 of the interviews have been conducted by RCN staff or volunteers since 1986, but the RCN Archives also accept donations of interviews from nursing research projects. There are eight original individual research projects included in the collection adding more than 300 interviews to the collection:

T/CI, 'Nursing in the Channel Islands during the World War 2 occupation' - 13 interviews oral history interviews conducted in 1995 with nurses and doctors who worked on the islands during the German occupation of Jersey and Guernsey and with some patients. They talk about health provision and problems created by the occupation. The interviewer Geraldine des Forges retains copyright. Transcriptions are available.

T/GRI, 'Glasgow Royal Infirmary School of Nursing 1938-1945' - 14 interviews with nurses who trained at Glasgow Royal Infirmary during World War 2, recorded by graduate nursing student Margaret Anne Highet of Dalhousie University, Canada during 2000. The collection includes Highet's dissertation. M. A. Highet retains copyright of all recordings and unpublished work. No transcriptions available.

T/IOL, 'District Nursing on the Isle of Lewis' - 20 interviews with retired district nurses conducted 2003-2005 by Catherine Morrison, Senior Nurse Community, Western Isles NHS. Format: CD containing 20 MP3 files. Transcriptions area available - there are no recordings for interviews T/IOL/11, 13 and 14, only transcriptions.

T/MH, 'Mental Health Nursing Oral History Project', Interviews with five individuals about mental health nursing, conducted by John Adams. Estimated length maximum of 560 minutes. Not yet catalogued. No transcriptions available.

T/NT, 'Comparative Study of Nurses' Training in the 1930's & 40's & 2008' Masters research project conducted by Christine Hyatt-Steel during 2008. The project covered Banstead U3A and St George's Hospital and presents issues around nurses views on their training. Transcriptions are available.

T/QNI, 'Perceptions of change: an oral history of District Nursing in Scotland, 1940-1999' - 68 interviews with Scottish district or 'Queen's Nurses' compiled as part of a PhD thesis by Rona Dougall (nee Fergusson). PhD thesis included (2002). The numbering schema used by Dougall has been maintained in this catalogue, pre-fixed by 'T'. Summaries are available for most, with some full transcriptions.

T/TB, 'Contact, Contagion and Communication: The Role of the Nurse in Relation to Tuberculosis (TB) 1930-1970'- 24 interviews with nurses working in fever hospitals with TB patients. Recorded by Dr Stephanie Kirby. Includes transcriptions. 35 minidisks, not all readable. No transcriptions available.

T/YH, 'Yorkhill Nurses League Oral History Project' - 41 interviews with nurses who trained and worked at Yorkhill Royal Sick Children's Hospital in Glasgow conducted by the members of the Yorkhill Nurses League, a nurses' alumni group. Transcriptions are available.

The RCN Archives also have a access copies of significant nursing oral archives in other repositories:

T/EUR, 'The History of Nursing in an English Urban Region from 1919' - 76 interviews by Frances Trees conducted in the 1990s with district and community nurses in the Liverpool area as part of a Wellcome funded project - originals held by Wellcome. No transcriptions available.
T/NV, 'Nurses Voices, an oral history of nursing and midwifery at St. George's hospital' 2004-2008'. Estimated length maximum of 800 minutes. No transcriptions available. Not yet catalogued.
T/R110-048, 'Challenge and Change in a Cinderella Service' PhD study by John Adams, 15 interviews (NB closures apply) - the original recordings are held by Cambridgeshire Archive Services (RefNo R110-048). No transcriptions available.
Extent800 interviews
Access StatusOpen
AccessConditionsBy invigilated appointment only. Please send access requests to (for access in London) or (for access in Edinburgh).
NA2United Kingdom/Europe
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