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Records of 1.5 million nursing ancestors online for first time

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Family historians can now access the records of more than 1.5 million nurses online thanks to a partnership between Ancestry.co.uk and the Royal College of Nursing, as the latter marks its centenary.

The unique records digitised by the genealogy website span nurses’ registrations and appointments from 1891-1968, and provide a rare glimpse into nursing and women’s history in the UK.

The records have been made available online in the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) centenary year, with founder Dame Sarah Swift’s records being among those being digitally preserved. 

The collection, which also includes records from the Wellcome Trust, gives families and historians the chance to uncover the previously untold stories of nurses from the UK and overseas.

Spanning two world wars and several continents, the records represent a unique piece of history that will give a new insight into the histories of thousands of families today. 

The records form part of three new nursing collections available via Ancestry. As well as the RCN Nursing Registers, which include names, addresses and enrolment dates, there are application forms from the RCN’s Scottish counterpart from 1921-1945 and the Queen’s Nursing Institute Roll of Nurses 1891-1931 (UK and Ireland).

Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: ‘The RCN is committed to preserving the history of the nursing profession, so it’s wonderful to see the records of so many inspiring nurses being digitised for the very first time, especially during our centenary year. 

‘Nurses have touched the lives of so many families, and this resource gives people the chance to travel back in time to discover the real lives of their nursing relatives.

‘Caring for the nation for generations, often through wars and crises, these nursing staff deserve to be remembered, and this unique project will help preserve their legacy for many more years to come.’ 

Find out more about the RCN’s centenary at www.rcn.org.uk/RCN100 and search the Nursing Records collection on Ancestry at http://bit.ly/2bCuzrQ.

Pictured: Dame Joanna Margaret Cruickshank, the founder of the Royal Air Force Nursing Service, also appears in the records.

Grab your October issue of Family Tree for more family history news!

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