10 stunning photos of nurses throughout history

Posted by Kristen Hyde on May 8, 2019 in Collections, Research, United Kingdom

May 12th is International Nurses Day – a chance to not only say thank you to the men and women who continue to work in the nursing field, but also to those who have served the medical profession throughout history.

We dug into the UK, Historical Photographs and Prints, 1704-1989 collection to find these ten beautiful photos of British nurses from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. From completing their training and being awarded service medals to the colourful lives they lived outside the hospital, these photos reveal the many aspects of nursing life that our ancestors experienced.

Did you have an ancestor who worked as a nurse? Tell us what you’ve learned about them in the comments below.

Nurse Ruby Rosser, a 21-year Welsh girl, watched over a patient in a bombed London hospital while the building was tumbling about her. For this, she received the George Medal. Here she is celebrating with her colleagues. 26 April 1941


Young girls training to be nurses at Guy’s Hospital, London. January 1941


Nurses busy making Christmas puddings at Moorfields Eye Hospital for the patients during Yuletide festivities. 26 November 1936


Babies born at Guy’s Hospital are taken out every morning by nurses in a specially constructed wagon known as the ‘babies’ bus’. The bus holds five babies, in separate compartments. 11 August 1938


Nurses of the Brook Hospital, Shooter’s Hill, during training for the Imber Court where L.C.C. hospitals were represented. 7 June 1939.


Armsful of daffodils, narcissi, and other flowers that were confiscated from the Penzance London train were handed over to various hospitals in the Paddington and other areas. Here a sister arranged some beautiful flowers in a ward of the St. Mary’s hospital. 19 February 1943


An infectious smile of happiness from State Registered nurse, Ellen Schipper of Farnborough, Kent after receiving a gold medal for her nursing work before sailing to Rotterdam to marry her fiancé. 8 September 1954


Mobile Unit and Red Cross nurses at an A.R.P centre in Southgate use their spare time to keep warm and fit! This Red Cross took on rather a big obstacle during a game of leap-frog and almost came to grief – but would have been in good hands if she’d taken a tumble.

Nurses from the Wembley Hospital with some of the runners competing in an upcoming charity race.


Nurses of the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, busy helping to arrange the fairy lights and the sideshows for their big Carnival in hospital grounds.




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