Collection NU - St George's nursing collection

Identity area

Reference code

NU

Title

St George's nursing collection

Date(s)

  • 1860-2011 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

5.8m3 / c.165 boxes. Format: Manuscript, typescript and printed records, photographs, audio­visual material (DVD, CD, MiniDisc, cassette tapes) and artefacts

Context area

Name of creator

(1752-)

Administrative history

St George's, University of London (legal name St George's Hospital Medical School, informally St George's or SGUL), is a medical school located in Tooting in South West London. The Medical School shares a closely related history with St George's Hospital, which opened in 1733 at Lanesborough House, Hyde Park Corner in Central London. St George's was the second institution in England to provide formal training courses for doctors (after the University of Oxford). The Medical School became a constituent college of the University of London soon after the latter's establishment in 1836.

From the very beginning, the physicians and surgeons were permitted by the laws of the Hospital to have a limited number of pupils. A formal register of pupils was maintained from 1752. The earliest recorded course of lectures at the hospital was that delivered by Sir Everard Home some time before 1803. Prior to this, there were no lectures and little regular teaching at all in the Hospital other than what the students could pick up from the physicians and surgeons on their way round the wards. Attempts to remedy this situation were a cause of friction between renowned surgeon John Hunter and his colleagues. In 1793 they drew up a number of suggestions and regulations relating to the instruction and discipline of the pupils of the hospital.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century medical training became more structured, and pupils at St George's were required to learn anatomy at various private anatomy schools, such as the Great Windmill Street School of Medicine established by William Hunter, the brother of John Hunter; the Grosvenor Place School of Anatomy and Medicine established by the former St George's pupil Samuel Lane, the Dean Street School of Medicine run by Joseph Carpue or Joshua Brookes' school of anatomy. Chemistry was taught at the Royal Institution in Albermarle Street in addition to the clinical subjects which were dealt with at St George's Hospital.

Samuel Lane's anatomy school was also known as 'The School of Anatomy and Medicine adjoining St George's Hospital'. Due to disagreement between Lane and other medical officers at St George's, it was seen as essential to have a school of anatomy more closely connected to St George's and controlled by staff there. This led to surgeon Benjamin Brodie purchasing a house on Kinnerton Street, which he then leased back to St George's for use as an anatomy theatre, a lecture room and a museum. As a result of this, for 20 years there were now two rival schools associated with St George's. Attempts were made to amalgamate the two schools, but none succeeded. Finally the Kinnerton School moved to buildings attached to the hospital in 1868 and became the sole 'Medical School of St George's Hospital'. Lane's school closed down in 1863.

Although pupils were trained at the Hospital from its foundation, the medical school was not formally established until 1834 when it opened at the premises on Kinnerton Street. The formal opening ceremony for the school was held in 1835 in the Anatomy Theatre on the premises, and saw the dissection of an ancient Egyptian mummy.

In 1868 the medical school at Kinnerton Street was moved to the buildings at the south-west corner of the hospital site in Hyde Park itself, with the main entrance in Knightsbridge and the back entrance on Grosvenor Crescent Mews. Until 1946 the Medical School, although recognised as a School of London University, was controlled by a Medical School Committee, made up of honorary staff of the Hospital. In 1945 the Medical School Committee was divided into a School Council and an Academic Board.

In 1915, in response to wartime staff shortages, St George's admitted its first four female medical students. Just before the outbreak of World War Two, it was decided that St George's needed to be rebuilt on its Hyde Park Corner site. The plan was however abandoned by the commencement of the war. During the War, against a background of the population shift from central London, discussions took place which paved the way for Saint George's to be rebuilt and transferred out of the city centre. With the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948, the hospital became part of the Saint George's Hospital Teaching Group of the South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. Soon after, the Board of Governors persuaded Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Health, that the new Hospital should be built on the Grove Fever Hospital and Fountain Hospital sites in Tooting.

The building of the new Saint George's at Tooting, South West London, began in 1973. The first phase of the new Saint George's Hospital Medical School opened in 1976. The Hospital at Hyde Park closed its doors for the final time in 1980 and HM Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the new St George's Hospital and Medical School at Tooting on 6 November 1980.

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Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Collection charting the development of nursing education at St George's and related institutions from the 19th century to the present day.

The collection includes
• Student registers, training and examination records, prospectuses and syllabi
• Administrative records, including committee minutes, reports, rules and regulations
• Publications and printed material such as newsletters and journals, including those published by St George’s Nurses’ League (1952­-2014)
• Papers, photographs and artefacts by St George’s Nurses’ League
• Personal papers, memoirs and memorabilia from individual nurses, including papers of matron Dame Muriel Powell (c.1910s-­1970s)
• Photographs, including student photographs, group photographs and personal photo albums by nurses
• Artefacts and objects, including clothing such as nurses’ caps, badges and medical instruments
• Papers from the Joint Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Kingston University and SGUL relating to nursing (1880­-1980), including
• ‘Nurses’ Voices’: Oral histories (interviews with St George’s nurses and midwives) and related documentation, recorded in 2010, documenting nursing at St George’s 1930-­1990

From in-­job training at the hospital, nursing education was gradually formalised during the latter half of the 19th century. From 1882 onwards, probationer nurses were offered lectures by the medical school and hospital staff; these lectures developed into a more formal syllabus, becoming compulsory for probationers in the 1890s, and the first formal examinations were introduced in 1894. The archive charts the development of nursing education from the late 19th century to the 21st century, including important changes in the demographics of the nursing staff, including the Windrush generation.

The collection encompasses training of nurses at St George’s and related institutions; for instance, nursing training at Victoria Hospital for Children and Grove Hospital were merged with St George’s School of Nursing in the 1950s, leading to the establishment of a branch of the School of Nursing at Tooting, where St George’s Hospital and Medical School (later university) moved in the 1970s from Hyde Park Corner, central London. Nursing education at St George’s is currently offered by the Faculty
of Health, Social Care and Education, a joint faculty of Kingston University and St George’s, University of London.

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The collection is currently uncatalogued. Please get in touch archives@sgul.ac.uk if you wish to access the collection.

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