Exciting loans for First World War Exhibition

Wellcome’s Professional Nurse’s Diary 1913 – 14 – Produced by Burroughs Wellcome & Co.

The Florence Nightingale Museum team have had an exciting morning visiting the Museum at the Royal London Hospital and collecting the wonderful items about First World War nursing they are kindly lending us for next month’s exhibition. All of the objects have such a strong historic resonance, but this little book really caught my eye and repays closer inspection.

This is an ordinary pocket diary for a working nurse, only 15 cm high so it would easily slip in a bag or a pocket. The flyleaf tells us it belonged to Lillie Radcliffe, and her address was Nurses’ Home, London Hospital, Whitechapel, E. Perhaps the winter of 1913 – 14 was similar to the winter of 2013 – 14, as she has written down the side of the flyleaf “Without sunshine, a girl withers.” As well as the usual pages for appointments, this little book contains chapters to help the professional nurse, on subjects such as Midwifery and First Aid for Nurses. Being a production of Burroughs Wellcome, it is also liberally scattered with advertisements for their products, mainly from their famous Tabloid range.

Perhaps most intriguing are the notes Lillie made herself at the back. She diligently noted down all the books she read over the course of the year (ranging from The Little White Bird by J M Barrie to She by Rider Haggard.) Lillie has also noted down all her plans for her Christmas shopping, so we know that she intended to buy Mother an ebony brush and comb, and Gertie was to receive a Duchess set and table centre.

The difficulty is we now have to choose which page to have it open in when it goes in display when the exhibition opens on March 13th! So many of the pages are fascinating it will be very hard to select one. Our thanks to Jonathan Evans at the Museum at the Royal London http://www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/about-us/museums,-history-and-archives/the-royal-london-museum/ for this window in a nurse’s everyday life 100 years ago.

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