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Historical nursing journals

The RCN archive holds an unrivalled range of English language nursing journals from around the world. The earliest issues date back to 1888 with titles covering a wide variety of nursing fields. Go to the historical journals holdings list (Word 132KB) for details.

The Nursing Record/British Journal of Nursing

Wellcome Trust

In 2001, the RCN archive digitised one of the rarest historical nursing journals from the RCN collections. This was funded by a Research Resources in Medical History grant from the Wellcome Trust. The aim was to facilitate and promote research into the history of nursing by improving access to early nursing journals.

The Nursing Record was published from 1888 to 1956, changing its name in 1902 to The British Journal of Nursing. The journal contains a wide range of information about hospitals, wards, staff, patients, illness and diseases, medicine and treatments, hospital equipment and events. As well as articles, letters and obituaries, the journals contain many photographs relating to all aspects of nursing and a wide variety of advertisements. The advertisements provide a rich source for the history of patent medicines, childcare products, uniforms and social and medical history.

The journals were scanned by document scanning and electronic archiving specialists Capture All Limited.

Guidelines for searching for a historical journal article:

  1. Check the journal article is historical - that is, over 25 years old, by searching the online library catalogue for the title or read the list of titles and dates of volumes/issues held by the RCN Archives department.
  2. RCN members should contact the RCN library to request the article using the photocopy request form UK library (Word 49KB)
  3. Non RCN members should contact the RCN archives directly. Complete a copyright form for published works (Word 34KB) and send to the RCN Archives complete with payment, making sure you have signed the copyright declaration form.
  4. If you do not know the reference details, the RCN Archives offers a searching service. This costs £20.00 per hour for searches up to a maximum of three hours (up to £60.00) for non members. This service is free for RCN members.
  5. The RCN can copy a maximum of one article per issue of a journal under the Copyright Licensing Agreement.