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RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery Cataloguing Project Blog: International Nurses’ Day

In March 2024, I joined RCSI Library as project archivist to appraise and catalogue a couple of discreet archive collections within their Heritage collections. The first collection I am tackling is RCSI's Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, as they are celebrating their 50th anniversary this coming October. My progress and some findings on this particular collection will be the subject of my first RCSI Heritage Collections blog.


The RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery was founded in 1974 and is one of the longest-serving providers of nurse education in Ireland. It provides registered nurses and midwives with education and training at the highest standard to support the maintenance of their professional development and competence. The Faculty of Nursing consists of a Dean and twelve members who constitute the Board of the Faculty and it is bound by the constitutions of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Council of the College. In addition, there is also full time academic, secretarial and administration staff. The Faculty ensures wide ranging and relevant programmes of education for nurses from a variety of clinical nursing specialties and provides full time and part time nursing programmes. This has included degrees and higher diplomas, and career professional development.

Dean Mary Frances Crowley.
Portrait from RCSI Women on Walls by William Nathans

The collection comprises forty-eight boxes, many of which contain the administrative files of the Faculty, as well as personal papers and artefacts from the first Dean of the Faculty, Mary Frances Crowley. The type of material within the collection includes: educational programme development records, finances,  minutes of various Committees, reports, documents relating to the fellowship of the College (FFNMRCSI), material relating to the Annual International Nursing and Midwifery Research and Education Conferences and scrapbooks and photographs which were collected and/or created by Dean Crowley and other members of the Faculty.

My first task in cataloguing the collection is to go through the material and begin recording information about the material, one box at a time. Information I have been gathering includes: dates, titles of documents, extent and medium, creator(s), preservation and/or conservation concerns, as well as any issues surrounding GDPR, copyright or sensitivities. Once I have reviewed the collection in its entirety, I will finalize an arrangement which reflects the business activities and functions of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery; describe and catalogue the material to ISAD(G) standard, then re-house the material in proper archival storage folders and boxes as well as label the material with reference codes; record the file and box locations; then upload entries to the Heritage Collections online public access catalogue.

While processing the collection I have come across some unique and interesting material including a variety of brochures from past programmes offered by the Faculty. These brochures give a sense of the courses that have been taught in the past and how they have evolved over time. They also reflect the driving force behind the Faculty’s development over the last fifty years which remains, to “develop a caring, reflective practitioner who has the ability to seek out and use research-based knowledge for the purposes of improving patient care.”[1]

Pledge for Nurses from the National Florence Nightingale Memorial Committee of Ireland

The collection also contains historical records concerning various societies, associations as well as periodicals from an assortment of healthcare organizations. They include The Irish Guild of Catholic Nurses, The National Florence Nightingale Committee of Ireland (example of material pictured above) and the Irish Red Cross. Periodicals have included those produced by the World Health Organization and the International Hospital Congress and The Irish Guild of Catholic Nurses, who produced the Irish Nursing News, (example in image below). There are also a number of copies of the Nursing Review journal which was developed as a result of the RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery Annual Research Conference.

Irish Nursing News, Official Publication of the Irish Guild of Catholic Nurses.

Interestingly some of the personal records of Dean Mary Frances Crowley date to her time as Matron of the Hôspital Irlandais de Saint-Lô after the Second World War. In fact, there are many historical documents detailing the history of Irish hospitals, which were gathered by the Faculty for RCSI’s bicentenary celebrations in 1984, as well as a great deal of documents detailing the history of Jubilee District Nursing in Ireland, more specifically Lady Dudley nurses deployed across the country beginning around the early period of the twentieth century.

Series of drawings and photographs of various Hospital Matrons

In only fifty years the RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery have expanded their educational programmes and promoted research and excellence in the fields of nursing and midwifery to the highest standards and this is evident in their archival records. 

I’m looking forward to sharing further on the collection in the coming months and making as many of the records available to researchers as possible so that the rich heritage of the Faculty and the individuals who contributed tirelessly to the fields nursing and midwifery and who promoted excellence and continued education and learning in the fields, can be shared and recognized.

Erin McRae

[1] RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery Archive Collection (RCSI/FoN). Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin.