Welcome to the UK Association for the History of Nursing (UKAHN)

The Association is autonomous and self-governing, and a constituent member of the European Association for the History of Nursing (EAHN). The membership comprises individuals who are historians of nursing.

As well as information about the association you fill find other resources on the site to help researchers and others, interested in the history of nursing.


The RCN History of Nursing Forum is seeking suggestions of nurses to nominate for inclusion in  the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Nurses are under represented in this important dictionary, and those included are not representative of our wide and varied profession. Do you have a nurse in mind who might be included? Teresa Doherty, Joint Head, Library and Archive Service at Royal College of Nursing offers more detail, and how to nominate, here.
More from the Royal College of Nursing who are hosting several public events through June and July. Firstly:  
Fighting for the Frontline
24th June 17.30 -19.00
Join the RCN for this 6th event in their series recording the nursing experience of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
In this session, we will hear from people who have supported nursing staff in the workplace during the pandemic, often while being directly impacted themselves. The interviewer is Tracey Budding, RCN Deputy President. Details and joining links here:
And next .. on the 29th June:
Find out about important contributions to nursing history, and consider what they can tell us about nursing today.
A Joint Event Organised by the RCN History of Nursing Forum and the UK Association for the History of Nursing (UKAHN)

For centuries, nurses and healthcare workers have performed a vital role in society. But what do we really know about their history? Join us to explore some of the most significant contributions to understanding the last 150 years of nursing. Find out what historians and nurses have learnt from their research and reflect on what it might tell us about healthcare today.

We will hear from Anne Summers about her research into British military nurses between 1854 and 1914, Peter Nolan on the history of mental health nursing, Karen Flynn on Black Caribbean and Canadian women in nursing and Anne Marie Rafferty on nursing politics in the twentieth century. In a session chaired by Jane Brooks, panellists will revisit their influential texts, reflecting on the process of their research and what has changed since, as well as considering the future directions of nursing history.

This event is free and open to all. Please register to attend and a link will be circulated in advance with instructions on how to join the event. All tickets must be booked individually.

See our full terms and conditions for events here.


Dr Anne Summers is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, a former Curator of Modern Historical Papers at the British Library (1989-2004) and Wellcome Trust Research Fellow (1986-1989). In addition to Angels and Citizens (1988 and 2000) she has published numerous articles on civilian nursing in the 19th century. Her latest book is Christian and Jewish Women in Britain 1880-1940: Living with Difference (2017).

Professor Peter Nolan spent most of his working life participating in different mental health services, after training as a psychiatric nurse in the 1960s. While he found the content of training courses, the stated aims of therapies and the language of policies and management beguiling, he felt that the reality of the lives and experiences of nurses and patients lay elsewhere. His first book, A History of Mental Health Nursing (1991), sought to show that mental health nursing had not only a history, but a fascinating one. Now in retirement, Peter continues to research and write so that the voices of mental health nurses from previous centuries and decades can be heard.

Dr Karen Flynn is an Associate professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of African American Studies Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr Flynn is also the associate chair for the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Dr Flynn’s book: Moving Beyond Borders: Black Canadian and Caribbean women in the African Canadian Diaspora published by University of Toronto won the Lavinia L. Dock Award from the American Association of the History of Nursing. She is currently working on a second book project tentatively titled, The Black Pacific: The African Diaspora in East Asia that maps the travel itineraries of young Black EFL teachers across borders.

Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty CBE is Professor of Nursing Policy, and former Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King’s College London. She is a historian and health workforce and policy researcher and was the first nurse to gain a doctorate (DPhil Modern History) from Oxford University. Her well-known book, The Politics of Nursing Knowledge, was first published by Routledge in 1996. Most recently, she has published Germs and Governance: The past, present and future of hospital infection, prevention and control (edited with Marguerite Dupree and Fay Bound Alberti). She was president of the Royal College of Nursing from 2019 to 2021.
The RCN Library and Archive: Past Caring

This is a new podcast series about the history of nursing. Each episode takes inspiration from RCN Library and Archive exhibitions exploring topics such as women’s health, myths about nursing, and learning disability nursing.

Past Caring is available on most podcast platforms. Listen to the first episode on Soundcloud here or subscribe to the series on Apple Podcasts.





‘People are curiously incredulous of a danger they cannot see’. In her blog,  Sarah Rogers [PhD student University of Huddersfield] expands on this quote, From Eva Luckes, Matron of the London over 100 years ago, which sums up the problem, then as now, of people’s inability to understand infection

Cancellation: 23rd UK Association for the History of Nursing Research Colloquium, Tuesday 29th June 2021.

After much deliberation the UKAHN committee have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 colloquium, planned to take place in Chichester on June 29th, in the light  of the ongoing uncertainty about the course of the current pandemic.

We very much hope that the 2022 colloquium (planned for the summer  but with the date to be confirmed) will go ahead. It will be held in Manchester. Details will be posted on this website, Twitter and Mailchimp.