Author Archives: katiedflanagan

About katiedflanagan

Rare books and special collections librarian

International Nurses’ Day

12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, is International Nurses’ Day, when people around the world celebrate the contribution that nurses make to society. We thought we would join in by sharing a story from our Special Collections about nurse training in the past.

A few of the autobiographies in our Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies recount experiences of nursing, including that of a male nurse in the 1930-50s, plus women who worked as nurses and housemaids at different times in their lives. This post will focus on Winifred Relph, who was born in 1912.

Winifred worked firstly as a housemaid after leaving school, then as a nurserymaid. She tried applying for nurse training at several London hospitals, but was told that her education wasn’t good enough, and advised to try small, provincial hospitals instead. Eventually she was accepted for training at Todworth General Hospital on the borders of Kent/Sussex.

As a probationer nurse she earned a salary of £20 a year and also had to supply much of her uniform, including:

  • 14 linen aprons
  • 6 stiff linen collars
  • 6 stiff linen cuffs
  • black woollen stockings
  • flat laceup black shoes

She lived on-site in the Nurses’ Home and shared a room with another probationer. Nurses’ rooms were inspected by the matron and expected to be kept as neat as on the ward. In the evenings the senior nurses played the piano and sang in the nurses’ sitting room.

She describes some of her typical tasks, such as starting each day with making thirty beds, with 90 seconds allowed for each bed (including removing the patient from it and putting them back again!). Nurses worked 12 hour shifts, including two hours off each day and three meal breaks. After six months of learning practical skills on the wards (Winifred worked on both the Children’s and Men’s wards) lectures on nursing theory were started, but unfortunately Winifred never got this far, as she became ill with acute rheumatism and was unable to carry on nursing.

Nursing only forms a small part of Winifred’s autobiography. You can find out more about different aspects of her life and writing at Writing Lives. Find out more about our other autobiographies on this blog.

 

Using Special Collections for your dissertation

Why use Special Collections?

You’ve chosen your dissertation topic because it’s something you’re really interested in discovering in more detail. Then delving into the sources in Special Collections can take your dissertation to the next level by making it more original, as well as helping you to develop your research skills.

Recent topics that people have researched using Special Collections include:

  • Politics under Churchill and Attlee
  • The beginnings of child protection in sport
  • London during the First World War
  • Communists in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Clothing of the poor
  • Perceptions of fascism in the inter-war period
  • Feminism under Thatcher
  • Colonial and post-colonial writers at the BBC
  • Presentation of women in the media
  • Feminism in the US in the 1950s

and the Burnett Archive of working class autobiographies has been featured in Radio 4 programmes about the history of friendship and the lives of working people during the industrial revolution.

Find out about our collections:

Special Collections is home to a huge array of material that can support your research. You can find out more by using our A-Z list of collections, or consulting our Special Collections guide, where we’ve highlighted collections of particular interest to English or History students.

You can search our collections by subject or keywords – use the library catalogue for printed material and the archive catalogue for manuscript.

Browse the Special Collections blog, you can use the tags to find posts on particular themes, such as the First World War or trains.

Contact the Special Collections Librarian, or your Subject Liaison Librarian for help.

If you are looking for collections beyond Brunel you will find a list of resources on our guide.

Using Special Collections

Our collections are kept in closed access, so you will need to make an appointment to come and see them. If you haven’t used Special Collections or archival material before there is a guide on our blog.

 

Brunel Library in 50 blog posts

To tie in with the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations during 2016, Special Collections have been showcasing the Library by running a blog series of 50 Library objects that tell us about the building, holdings, and services. We put up one post on the Special Collections blog every week for fifty weeks during 2016 and the last post went up on 16 December. Check out the blog series here or on twitter via #BrunelLibrary50objects and see the range of collections we have!

Topics covered include the history of the Library building; a railway station record of a corpse being sent by train; autobiographies of ordinary people; letters of palaeontologist Mary Anning; research into cultural and sociological aspects of ageing carried out recently at Brunel; modern poetry; use of the library for recreation as well as study; records of anti-apartheid campaigner Dennis Brutus; rare books and journals; artwork; and much more.

Do let us know in the comments which were your favourite posts. Perhaps you enjoyed comparing the library building then and now? Finding out about our oldest book? Or our railway photograph collections?

Explore Archives

Special Collections at Brunel University London is home to a wide range of both printed and archival collections.

Why use Special Collections?

Delving into the sources in Special Collections can take your research (whether for an undergraduate essay or dissertation, to postgrad work) to the next level by making it more original, as well as helping you to develop your research skills.

Recent topics that people have researched using Special Collections include:

  • London during the First World War
  • Communists in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Clothing of the poor
  • Perceptions of fascism in the inter-war period
  • Feminism under Thatcher
  • Colonial and post-colonial writers at the BBC
  • Presentation of women in the media
  • Feminism in the US in the 1950s

and the Burnett Archive of working class autobiographies has been featured in Radio 4 programmes about the history of friendship and the lives of working people during the industrial revolution.

Find out about our collections:

Special Collections is home to a huge array of material that can support your research. You can find out more by using our A-Z list of collections, or consulting our Special Collections guide, where we’ve highlighted collections of particular interest to English or History students.

You can search our collections by subject or keywords – use the library catalogue for printed material and the archive catalogue for manuscript.

Browse the Special Collections blog, you can use the tags to find posts on particular themes, such as the First World War or trains.

Contact the Special Collections Librarian if you need help finding suitable material.

If you are looking for collections beyond Brunel you will find a list of resources on our guide.

Using Special Collections

Our collections are kept on closed access, so you will need to make an appointment to come and see them. If you haven’t used Special Collections or archival material before there is a guide on our blog.

 

Special Collections closure period

Due to a changeover in staffing in Special Collections we will be closed to readers and enquirers between 22 October and 9 November 2015 inclusive. Appointments to use the collection will be available from week beginning 16 November. To make an enquiry or an appointment please email special.collections@brunel.ac.uk and we will respond to you as soon as possible after 9 November.

National Sporting Heritage Day

Today it’s National Sporting Heritage Day, and we’re blogging about a couple of our collections which are particularly relevant to this.

Celia Brackenridge Collection

Celia and her OBE

Celia and her OBE

Celia Brackenridge OBE is Professor Emerita at Brunel University London. She spent her academic career researching inequalities in sport with special reference to gender and children’s rights. Among other things, she established her archive to document the struggles and successes of her efforts to secure child protection and the prevention of non-accidental violence and abuse in sport.

The collection documents her various research studies on sexual abuse in sport and her advocacy journey through the formation of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1984 onwards), the NGO WomenSport International (1994 onwards), the foundation and development of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (2001 onwards). The collection is based on Celia’s commitment to recording not just the outcomes of research but also the process and experience of doing advocacy-based investigations.

You can find out more about the collection on our website.

Dennis Brutus Collection

Dennis Brutus was a South African human rights activist, sports campaigner against apartheid, and poet. He is perhaps best known for his campaign to have apartheid South Africa banned from the Olympics in the 1960s. His collection here at Brunel includes personal and professional correspondence and a large collection of newspaper cuttings on sport and apartheid in South Africa.

Find out more about the Dennis Brutus collection on our website.

Happy New Year!

Bookmark Daily

Whether you’ve just started at Brunel, arrived over the summer, or have just come back as a returning student, welcome to the 2015/16 academic year! We’ve been busy since the end of exams in May, making changes to spaces and services – here’s a quick run down of what’s new or coming up, with links for more details.Ready to get started at the Fresher's Fair

Research Commons The Research Commons is now the main Postgraduate and Researcher space in the Library, with more study space, more PCs, and open 24/7 throughout the year.

Special Collections now have a new home on floor 3, with improved space for readers and better storage for the collections.

Learning Commons There have been major changes on floor 1, where we’ve created a new flexible Learning Space that will be used for all sorts of activities.

Steampunk TimLibSmart has launched, with a new base for drop-ins in the Learning Commons, new activities and…

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