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Library Europe's largest nursing-specific collection

Special Collections

The RCN library and archive collections are the largest of their kind in the world.

A unique collection of material on British nurses and nursing.

Our collections date from the 1870s to the present day. They capture the evolution and development of nursing through the 20th-21st Centuries.

Royal College of Nursing Corporate Archive

A century of records detailing the work of the College as a professional association and trade union.

More on the Royal College of Nursing Archive


Oral History Collection

A collection of over 700 oral history interviews with nurses.  

See the Archives Catalogue for more detail.

More on the Oral History Collection.


Printed Collection

Over 8500 books and other printed material dating from 1870.

More on the Printed Collection

Personal nursing libraries donated to the Royal College of Nursing including the Lucy Seymer and Cecilia Cory Collections.


Historical Nursing Journals

Over 250 journals dating from 1888-1987. 

More about the Historical Nursing Journals.

You can search the journal finder for our historical titles.

Search The Nursing Record - British Journal of Nursing 1888-1956


Florence Nightingale Collection

25 books from Nightingale's personal library from 1841.

More on the Book Collection

Handwritten letters by Nightingale 1855 - 1902 and contemporary pamphlets and reports.

More on the Letters and Pamphlets Collection


Royal College of Nursing Publications

A collection of pamphlets and books published by the Royal College of Nursing including guidance, annual reports, commissioned research and promotional literature dating from 1919.

More on the Royal College of Nursing Publications

More on the Study of Nursing Care and RCN Research Series



Rare Books Collection

Over 100 rare and unique early nursing and health care books 1614 - 1870.

More on the Rare Book Collection


Nurses' Personal Papers

A pool of evidence illustrating nurses' real livesand careers from 1822 - to present including letters, certificates and diaries.

More on the Nurses' Personal Papers


Photographic Collection

Over 5,000 prints showing nurses, nursing and hospitals from the 1900s to 1980s.

More on the Photographic Collection

Search Mary Evans Picture Library


Badges and Medals Collection

Over 8,000 nursing and hospital badges donated to the Royal College of Nursing.

More on the Badges and Medal Collections.



Steinberg Collection

Over 1500 nursing doctoral theses 1958 - to present.

More on the Steinberg Collection

Postcard Collection

Over 2000 nursing and hospital postcards donated to the Royal College of Nursing.

More on the Postcard Collection


Nursing Organisation Collections

Papers donated to the Royal College of Nursing by other UK nursing organisations.

More on Nursing Organisation Collection

Search Queens Nursing Institute for Scotland


Nursing Registers

Registers from across the UK including the General Nursing Councils from 1921 - 1968; Burdett’s Directories from 1898 - 1899, and the Royal College of Nursing members 1916-1923 are available at Ancestry.com 

For help see the family history guide.

Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholars' Reports Collection

Over 440 reports comparing UK and international nursing practice from 1990 - to present.

More on the Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholar's Reports


Media Collection

Audio and video recordings, dating from the late 1970s including Royal College of Nursing events and training videos on clinical practice televised in the 1990s.  

More on the Media Collection