UCH, Nurses’ Charity Archive Project First Steps

I started with the Facebook page

I might never had considered joining the UCH Nurse Charity had it not been for the effect of starting the UCH London Facebook Page (now well over 1000 members) shortly after my retirement from health service nursing and midwifery research work and during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve always been a bit of a nostalgic and have squirrelled away sentimental and memorable items from my 1980’s UCH student Nurse days. When I shared online some of the blurred and dated photos of parties and friends in the Nurses homes, battered, well-thumbed Nurse training manuals, my annotated anatomy books, regimented old shift rotas, and dog-eared and faded uniform/ Nurses Home conduct policies with the other FB members I realised there was a real appetite for reminiscing about all things of past UCH nursing times.

Social and Family History

I also love social and family history and have spent the past 6 years researching my own family, delving into dusty catalogues and roll books at Essex County archives, scrolling through baptism microfiches of 17th/18th century East London, driving to distant west country graveyards and counties to know the resting places or hometowns of dead ancestors, flying to Berlin war graves, and discovering new relatives through DNA saliva tests.

Yes, I am a little eccentric, somewhat obsessed and quite keen.

Joining the Trustees

When the Chair of UCH Nurses Charity, Helen Allen emailed me and asked to meet (or Zoom) with our little administrative team of UCH Facebook to discuss how we might work together we were excited about how we might help each other.

The Charity also needed new Nurse Trustees to continue and develop the benevolent and educational work it does. And so, I now find myself as a newly signed up Charity Trustee with the marvellous and interesting task of working on the UCH Archives. This could be my dream job although it might be a huge one. Pandemic times being as they are, I have not been able to see the Archives yet or meet with the archivist, and I have no idea what I will find. I believe there are copious hidden treasures to be rediscovered and catalogued. But I feel well prepared and practised for such a cobwebby task. I have a few ideas and plans. I would like to bring more history of UCH out of the cupboards and boxes and into a more accessible format for interested Nurses and researchers. I would like to build an oral history of UCH nursing, recording the tales perhaps some of our most elderly colleagues. It is an exciting opportunity and will be quite an adventure I am sure.

Paula Jenkins nee Lazell Set 257

Piles of old photos

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