Last month the archive was lucky to be involved in a fascinating evening of lectures about the history of community nursing, organised by the Queens Nursing Institute Scotland and RCN Scotland’s Sian Kiely. I am an archivist with the RCN Library & Archive Services, based in the Edinburgh office, part of a small team responsible for looking after the history of the RCN. We collect, protect and preserve the documents, photographs and objects which together tell the stories of the RCN and its people. We help members and staff with all sorts of enquiries and, every now and again, we get to show off original archive documents.
We always get a great turnout for lectures and archive displays, and the QNIS event held at South Oswald Road on the 13th of February was no exception. Together with our volunteer I selected photographs, badges and documents from the archive which would hold the most interest for the nurses and retired nurses attending the evening lectures. The event was a huge success, with close to 60 people attending, who came along to look at the archives after the lectures. I was on hand to talk about the process of collecting and looking after these precious items, and spent a lot of my time hearing snippets of some fascinating conversations between nurses and retired nurses sparked by the original documents. Photographs always get a good response from people, but this audience also really engaged with some of the less-obviously interesting papers, as they referred back to one of the lectures heard earlier that evening, and this in turn led to conversations and reminiscences about these nurses’ own experiences of district nursing. The level of engagement and enjoyment shown by the evening’s attendees really showed how relevant the RCN’s archive is, and how important it is for people to have the opportunity to interact with it. I very much look forward to the next event I get to attend, and hope it will be as rewarding as this one was.