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.
A century of records detailing the work of the College as a professional association and trade union.From the first days of the College as an advocate for professionalism and nursing education to its later years of campaigning and negotiating as the voice of British nursing, the archive holds the written record.
Lucy Seymer was a prominent nursing historian who left her personal library to the Royal College of Nursing.
Cecilia Cory was a founding member of the College who left a memorial fund to purchase books for the Library.
Our collection of Historical Nursing Journals is a great resource for nursing and healthcare research. There are over 250 English language titles from all over the world dating from 1888-1987.
You can search the journal finder for our historical journal titles and details on how to make an appointment to view the journals at the RCN library and heritage centre.
One of the rarest historical nursing journals from the collections has been digitised. The Nursing Record was published from 1888 to 1956, changing its name in 1902 to The British Journal of Nursing. Search the Historical Nursing Journals.
More about the Historical Nursing Journals
These two collections of unique material are closely connected with Florence Nightingale.
The book collection contains 25 books from Florence Nightingale's personal library, dating from 1841.
In the letters and pamphlets collection are letters handwritten by Florence Nightingale between 1855 and 1902. The collection also contains contemporary pamphlets and reports which she influenced.
Two groundbreaking nursing research projects, commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1966, the RCN was invited by the Ministry of Health to undertake studies to develop the quality of nursing care. The "Study of Nursing Care" research project comprises 12 original studies, plus 2 reports reviewing the series.
Commissioned in 1973 and running to 1994, the RCN Research series consists of 57 papers published with the aim to encourage the appreciation and dissemination of high quality studies to the nursing profession.
The Steinberg Collection is a central reference collection of nursing theses.
The collection contains over 1500 doctoral theses, dating from 1958.
The nursing or hospital badge is a very popular item. Our collections contain over 8,000 badges of individual nurses donated to the Royal College of Nursing.
More on the Badge and medal collections.
The RCN archive holds collections of postcards. Postcards were a common and popular form of communication throughout the twentieth century. Nurses are often pictured in their new uniforms when starting training. Hospitals also used sales of picture postcards of their wards and grounds to raise funds.
More about the postcard collections
This is an archive collection of approximately 5,000 mainly black and white prints showing nurses, nursing and hospitals, predominantly from the 1900s to 1980s in Britain, with some overseas images included.
More about the Photographic Collection
A collection of papers from other UK nursing organisations. This includes the Queens Nursing Institute Scotland.
Search the Archives catalogue
Please contact the Archives for more information.
More on the Collections of nurses' personal papers
Dating from 1919 and representing England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, a reference collection of documents, pamphlets and books published by the RCN, covering nursing policy and education, clinical, legal and ethical guidance, annual reports and promotional literature.
Video recordings, dating from the late 1970s, on nurse training, clinical practice and the nursing profession.
The collection includes two major series produced by the RCN in the 1990s.
More on the video and film collection