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Library Europe's largest nursing-specific collection

Black History Month

Highlights from the Collections: Black History Month

In honour of black history month, the RCN Library and Archive Service are showcasing some of our amazing collections to recognise the contribution of black and minority ethnic (BAME) nurses. If you have any comments, recognise a nurse or would like further information, please contact us

Our collections are always developing and we welcome donations from RCN members and the public. If you have any photographs, certificates, nursing notes or badges which you would like to donate to our archive, please complete our donation form.

Please note that images are for reference only. If you would like to use any images please contact us.


Our archive holds BAME nursing images from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Our holdings are extensive and available to browse through our archive catalogue and our digital archive.

We have included some images here for you to view.

We welcome more information on nurses in our photograph collection, to help improve our knowledge and enable us to have a more complete picture of nursing history.

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Ms. Watson-Druee discusses her arrival in Britain in 1969

Oral histories

The archive holds a number of nurse's personal stories, where nursing recount how they overcame obstacles to attain professional recognition for their contribution to nursing. A number of these histories, told in their own words, come from nurses entering the UK profession from around the world including:

Dr Neslyn Watson-Druee was born in St Elizabeth, Jamaica. She always wanted to be a nurse, and travelled to the UK in 1969, without her parents consent, to train. Following an incident she left the NHS and set up a successful careers development company dealing exclusively with ethnic minorities prior to becoming NHS Kingston Chairman.

Carmen Morgan, born Chapelton in Clarendon Jamaica, she trained at Bexley Hospital on a friends recommendation, eventually qualifying with an OU degree and working in district nursing.

Geniva Olaniyan came to Britain from Trinidad in 1968. She trained as a nurse at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham and later in her career as a midwife at Guy's Hospital.

If you would like to browse our oral history collection it is available online


Journal Articles

Throughout their history BAME nurses have written about their experiences, both clinical and personal. The list below covers some of the issues and challenges our BAME nurses face today and in the past. For more information and to search our collection, try our library search tool.

Breaking Barriers

Colleagues celebrate Windrush legacy

Racism, immigration, and the NHS

The Seacole legacy

Black, Asian and minority ethnic female nurses: colonialism, power and racism

History of partnership

Mother country

BAME Journals

The RCN Library holds an impressive array of journals covering a wide array of countries including Jamaica, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand. A number of these titles are only held in the UK by the RCN. These titles may be viewable by appointment only.

Australasian Nurses

New Zealand Nursing Journal

Nursing Journal of India

Nursing Journal of Singapore

Philippine Journal of Nursing

South African Nursing Journal

Zambia Nurse


Books on Windrush

The library holds a number of books detailing the history of the Windrush era and its subsequent influence today. Below are a selection of our titles, for more information visit the library catalogue.

Nnaemeka, Barbara Maria. (2013) Granddaughter of the Windrush.

Kramer, Ann. (2006) Many rivers to cross: Caribbean people in the NHS 1948-69.

Edmund-Charles, Zena A. P. (2006) Then and now in the National Health Service.

Phillips, M. (1998) Windrush: a guide to the season.

Bourne, S. (2018) War to Windrush: black women in Britain 1939 to 1948.

Bourne, S. (2010) Mother country: Britain's black community on the home front, 1939-45.

Carnegie, M.E. (1986) The path we tread: blacks in nursing, 1854-1984

Hine (1989) Black women in white: racial conflict and cooperation in the nursing profession 1890-1950


Windrush books

Books about BAME nurses and their experiences

We have a number of titles in our library catalogue which reflect the diversity of the nursing community. Many of these works are written by BAME nurses and this includes our first edition of Mary Seacoles book, written to raise funds following her work in the Crimea.

Seacole, Mary (1857) Wonderful adventures of Mrs Seacole in many lands 

Carnegie, M.E. (1995) The path we tread: blacks in nursing worldwide 1854-1994

Davis, A.T. (1999) Early Black American leaders in nursing: architects for integration and equality

Anionwu, Elizabeth (2016) Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union 

Kramer, Ann (2006) Many rivers to cross.

Divins, Roberta (2015) Contagious communities: medicines, migration and the NHS in post war Britain.

Amya, SEN (1970) Problems of overseas students and nurses

Mayor, Vina (2002) Staying power: the career journeys of leading African, African-Caribbean and Asian nurses in England Ph.D thesis.
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Hidden in plain sight diversity exhibition

Our recent exhibition celebrated the contributions of some of the nurses whose work and lives have been overlooked. We highlight a few of stories from the RCN collections, including the role of lesbian nurses in the First World War, BAME nurses and Deaf mental health nurses.