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Library Europe's largest nursing-specific collection

Family history

Resources to help find registered nurses


From August 2016 the RCN is making key nursing registers available via Ancestry is a genealogy website that provides access to a wide range of resources on a subscription basis.


Each of the guides below has information on nurses leagues and registers, midwifery, training and employment records and recommended reading. The Library and Archive Service holds the books listed in the guides, but most of the supporting information is available on the internet or in local libraries. If you need further support or advice in using these guides please email

Please note that these guides are still a work in progress and may contain some errors. Please do keep checking back as they are being continuously updated.

What is state registration?

State registration for nurses was one of the first RCN campaigns. Three General Nursing Councils (GNCs) were established in 1921: one for England & Wales, one for Scotland and one for Ireland. The three GNCs each published an annual Register of Nurses from 1922 until 1968. Since 1943 anyone working as a nurse had to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Inquiries about current registration should be directed to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

What is RCN membership?

The RCN is a professional body and has also been a registered trade union since 1976. State registered nurses and midwives are eligible to become members, as are other healthcare practitioners and those studying to become nurses or midwives.

For more recent membership queries please contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100.