The RCN library and heritage collections are the largest of their kind in the world.
The Library and Archive Service has a unique collection of books and archive materials 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.
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.
In 2001 the Wellcome Trust funded the digitsation of one of the rarest historical nursing journals from the collections. The Nursing Record was published from 1888 to 1956, changing its name in 1902 to The British Journal of Nursing. You can search the collection here.
More on the Historical Nursing Journals
Two collections of unique material closely connected with Florence Nightingale: a collection of books belonging to Florence Nightingale, her family and descendants, and a collection of handwritten letters written by Florence Nightingale, contemporary reports which she influenced, and pamphlets.
The most comprehensive collection of English language nursing titles in Europe, containing over 8500 books, pamphlets, reports and other printed material covering all aspects of nursing, dating from 1870 to the present day
Within the Permanent Collection are two small collections bequeathed to the Royal College of Nursing, the Lucy Seymer Collection and the Cecilia Cory Collection.
The Steinberg Collection is a comprehensive central reference collection of nursing theses at doctoral level.
A number of these have been published as textbooks and as part of the RCN Research series and Study of Nursing Care series, although often shortened so this collection allows scholars access to the primary research sources.
Our collections contain the badges of individual nurses donated to the Royal College of Nursing.
More on the Badge and medal collections.
Postcards of portraits of nurses; First World War cartoons; interiors and exteriors of hospitals; military hospitals; overseas hospitals and fund-raising cards. Some of the cards are unused, but many have been written and are postmarked and have stamps attached.
Search the Archives catalogue (Any Text = postcard)
Mainly black and white prints showing nurses, nursing and hospitals. Most of the photographs are from the 1900s to 1980s in Britain, with some overseas images included. Many are associated with Personal Paper collections.
Partially catalogued and digitised. Images are available in the Archive catalogue (search Any Text = photograph)
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