Nominations for Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The RCN History of Nursing Forum is leading a project to propose biographical articles (with authors) to the ODNB.  Their Chair, Stuart Wildman, is collating a long list of suggestions which will be reviewed and presented to ODNB for a final decision.  The Forum led a successful project 2016-2020 which resulted in some 30 additional articles being published.

UKAHN collaborated closely with us and we had a number of Women’s History Network members who authored articles.  We hope that more of you will get involved in this project!

Suggestions of nurses to include and offers to write articles will be welcomed. Please send your ideas to Stuart at: popping ODNB in the subject line.

Here’s some background on why this is important:

Out of over 60,000 articles ODNB has 104 articles on nurses.  30 of these were added in 2020.  This is a very small number.  In the 100 years since professional state registration was introduced, Nursing is/was the largest single profession in the UK – currently over 700,000 nurses are registered to practice (teachers= 500,000; accountants 250,000).  Since 1920 we know the gender balance has remained static at ~90% women to  ~10% men.

ODNB articles published so far, focus on the stories of white middle class women from military and hospital care settings.  This is not representative of nursing, not now and not historically.    This project seeks to fill gaps and be more inclusive.

Whole branches of nursing are underrepresented or missing, e.g.  Learning Disability Nursing (recognised for over 100 years) has no nurse articles.  Similarly there is only one article on a nurse from Northern Ireland, and some English regions have no nurse articles at all.  Specialist nurses, such as cancer nurses, are missing and nurses from diverse backgrounds are notable by their absence.

You can read more about this project here:

And you can read how we ran our 2016-2020 project here:

So please, contact Stuart  at popping ODNB in the subject line with your suggestions and offers to author articles

Very best wishes

Teresa Doherty, Joint Head, Library and Archive Service at Royal College of Nursing