Some of my favourite objects held in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) heritage collection is a group of photo albums that contain individual photos of most of the nurses who did their training at the TQEH.
These photos, taken when trainee nurse’s began their training, were usually passport photo size and taken against a plain backdrop. In the earlier photos the nurses would also hold up a piece of card on which they wrote their names.
Nursing training first began at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1954 with a midwifery training school, and in 1959 was expanded to include training for general nursing. Trainees attended six weeks of what was known as Preliminary Training School (PTS) before entering in-hospital training. During PTS the trainees would attend classes learning the basics, and practised their skills in a demonstration room which was equipped to resemble a hospital ward. Nursing training continued at the TQEH until the 1990s when it then shifted to the university setting.
As well as being a fantastic record of the nurse’s that trained at the TQEH, the photo albums also holds other interesting morsels of information. Just some of them include:
- Uniform changes – highlighting the change from the starched white aprons and caps of the 1950s and 60s to the more casual uniforms of the the later trainees.
- The increasing prevalence of male trainee nurses – highlighting the changing attitude to a profession that was previously viewed as women’s work.
- The changing fashion in hairstyles – another fascinating change that can be tracked.
Written by Jonathan Hull, CALHN Heritage Office