Alt Ref NoMO
TitleMatron's Office and nursing training records
DescriptionRecords of Matron's Office and nursing at St Bartholomew's Hospital, [1800]-1984, comprising matrons' report books, 1880-1975, containing weekly reports from the Matron concerning the nursing staff; matrons' weekly reports of nursing staff, 1929-1964, including Hill End Hospital, 1939-1961, containing numbers of sisters and nurses in the Hospital; stock lists of nurses' and sisters' uniforms, kitchen overalls, dress materials, surgeons' aprons, 1898-1957; linen inventories by ward, 1916-1955; linen storeroom ledgers and journal, 1912-1954;

records relating to staff, 1877-1939, including lists of staff; matrons' letter books, 1939-1957; reports of the International Council of Nurses, 1950; annual nursing reports, 1911-1956, including lists of appointments; 'candidates' letter books, 1939, 1952, containing copies of matrons' letters to enquirers and applicants for nursing training; matrons' confidential letter book, 1935-1937; minutes of the Nursing Advisory Committee, 1948-1972; Nurse Education Committee, 1962-1973; reports and papers of the Nursing Advisory Committee and Nurse Education Committee, 1948-1973, including study days, ward staffing arrangements, degree course for nurses; inaugural lecture for the opening of the new school of nursing in St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1877; notices of conditions under which probationers were accepted for training, 1893-1934; application forms of candidates for probationers, 1928-1944; printed regulations of the Preliminary Training School, 1932; printed brochures for the Training School for Nurses, [1920s-1930s]; printed forms and notices issued to probationers, 1924-1932, including details of uniforms, duty timetables; syllabuses of courses and lectures, [1923-1925]; forms for reports on probationers, 1932, 1935; examination papers, [1935-1939];

office papers and correspondence of Annie McIntosh, Matron, 1910-1927, relating to nursing staff and training; office papers and correspondence of Helen Dey, Matron, 1927-1949; notes on pay scales for nursing and domestic staff, 1917-1943; ward sister's notes on medical and nursing subjects relating to her duties, [1925]-1949; printed rules of the Zachary Merton Home, [1937]; for nurses, [1800]-1941; for patients in the wards, [1878]-1946; for relatives and friends of patients, 1936, 1949; printed admission cards for visitors to the wards, 1932, 1934;

registers and records of nurses and staff, comprising lists of Sisters, [1862]-1897, [1935]-1944; register of domestic maids, 1877-1962; register of nurses, ward assistants and probationers, 1881-1887; register of nurses, 1879-1905; register of probationer nurses, 1877-1961; matron's report books on probationers during first year of training (with some details of training in second and third years), 1881-1949; register of probationers serving their fourth year in the Trained Nurses Institution, 1886-1930; register of nurses remaining on the nursing staff after probationership, 1901-1915; registers of Special Probationers, 1884-1918; names of staff nurses at the Special Treatment Centre, 1917-1929; register of probationers who left during their trial period, 1910-1946; register of pupil probationers at the Preliminary Training School, 1925-1958; Preliminary Training School register, 1924-1952; register of probationers entering the Hospital from the Preliminary Training School, 1939-1958; register of ward maids, 1920-1948; registers of nursing staff on duty in each ward, 1933-1951; register of nursing staff on duty at Hill End Hospital, 1940; registers of 'Dominion nurses' (trained in Commonwealth countries), 1948-1962; register of Sisters' appointments, 1952-1960; nurses' sickness record books, 1914-1965; register of sick nurses admitted to the Zachary Merton Convalescent Home, 1937-1939; record cards of former nursing staff and students, 1959-1984; nurses' training and leaving records, 1948-1973; nurses' training records, 1948-1967.
Related MaterialRecords of the Territorial Army Nursing Service of St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1909-1948 (reference SBHB/TA), and the Trained Nurses Institution of St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1886-1948 (reference SBHB/TN), held by St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.
Record of the League of St Bartholomew's Nurses, reference SBHLN, are held by St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives. Membership index cards often include details of the subsequent appointments of nurse who qualified at St Bartholomew's Hospital School of Nursing.
Administrative historySt Bartholomew's Hospital was founded, with the Priory of St Bartholomew, in 1123. The first reference to a "nurse" in the records of St Bartholomew's Hospital appears in the 1650s, but the title of "sister" is much older. In the earliest centuries of the Hospital's existence its head was known as the Master, and his staff were the brethren and sisters of the Hospital. As members of the Augustinian order they dedicated their lives to religious observance and took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. There appear to have been four sisters at St Bartholomew's before the Reformation, and their chief task was to attend and feed the patients.

In the 1539 the Priory of St Bartholomew was closed and the monastic organisation of the Hospital ended. In 1546-1547 Henry re-founded St Bartholomew's Hospital, and under the terms of the charter there was to be "one Matron and twelve women under her to make the beds and wash and attend upon" the patients. The first known Matron was Rose Fisher, whose name appears from 1547 to 1559, and she had charge of twelve women who assumed the title of "sister" used by their medieval predecessors. Each sister had charge of one of the wards of the Hospital. Besides looking after the patients, she fetched coal and provisions, emptied the slops, and did what she could to keep her ward clean. The sisters washed all the patients' personal and bed linen by pounding it in a large wooden vat; this was known as "beating the Buck". They supplied their own wood-ash (soap was not used until 1687) and each sister had to account for all the sheets used in her own ward, and to dry, press and mend them. She would live and sleep on her ward, a practice which continued until the late nineteenth century.

Until the middle of the seventeenth century sisters worked alone, with no staff to assist. Helpers for the sisters are first mentioned in 1647, and from the 1650s onwards these helpers were often called "nurses". In 1652 a rule was introduced, although not always observed in practice, that no sister should be employed who did not have previous experience as a nurse or helper. The nurses and sisters were still responsible for the washing until 1754 when a washerwoman was appointed. Some of the early Matrons of St Bartholomew's Hospital were married women, but the rule that sisters and nurses should be single women or widows was strictly enforced. As a result many of the hospital staff had no-one to look after them in old age, and continued working until infirmity finally compelled them to give up. One sister in the 1720s was still working at the age of eighty, but was retired on a pension because her incapacity had led her to set fire to the bed curtains. Others were inclined to disorderly behaviour or drunkenness, and from time to time a nurse was brought before the Governors and reprimanded or dismissed. In 1791 the Governors discharged the entire staff of Luke Ward (sister, day nurse and night nurse) for being drunk. But offenders on this scale were probably not typical; a more serious problem was that most nurses had little education, and lacked any kind of skill. In the nineteenth century James Paget, the distinguished surgeon, recalled the nurses he had known as a medical student in the 1830s. "The greater part of them", he wrote, "were rough, dull, unobservant and untaught". The sisters were generally of higher calibre but, when speaking of the best of the nurses, Paget felt that "it could only be said that they were kindly, and careful and attentive in doing what they were told".

The beginnings of professional nursing and nurse education came in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1868 "scrubbers" were appointed, so for the first time nurses were relieved of some of their cleaning duties. Then in 1877, following the example of the Nightingale School at St Thomas' Hospital, a School of Nursing was founded at Bart's. In the early years tuition was rudimentary. The older sisters and staff nurses could offer very little, and as a result the education of the nurses was left to the medical staff. Initially of one year's duration, the training was soon extended to two years and then, in 1882, to three years. The latter change was made by Ethel Gordon Manson, Matron 1881-1887, (later Mrs Bedford Fenwick) who devoted herself to the cause of professional nursing. Ethel Manson's successor, Isla Stewart, was also a well known figure in the progressive nursing movement of that time, and under her auspices the hospital hosted founding meetings of the Matron's Council of Great Britain (in 1894) and the International Council of Nurses (provisional commitee, in 1899). Under their leadership working conditions at the Hospital were improved, untrained sisters and nurses were weeded out, and a full teaching curriculum introduced.

By 1910 the nursing establishment of the Hospital had doubled in size, to over 250, and the hours of duty had been reduced from fifteen per day in 1877 to an average of nine. Until the 1920s pupils at the School of Nursing were taught by the medical staff, the Matron, or sometimes by one of the ward sisters. The first Sister Tutor was appointed in 1925, and a full teaching staff was gradually built up within the School. Lectures continued to be given in the evenings until 1950 when for the first time student nurses were given one full day a week when they could study in the classroom. Shortly afterwards a block system was introduced whereby a month could be spent in the School, away from routine duties in the wards. In 1968 a degree-style course for student nurses was begun in association with City University. The first male nurses arrived in the hospital in the 1970s (see SBHB/MO/24/38), and at the same time, with many more students from overseas passing through the School of Nursing, the ethnic composition of the nursing staff began to change. Until the 1960s, staff nurses' and Sisters' posts were exclusively filled by graduates of the hospital's own training school, but recruitment practices also changed and by the end of the decade many positions were held by nursing staff who had trained elsewhere. After the report of the Ministry of Health Committee on Senior Nursing Staff Structure (the "Salmon Report" of 1966) St Bartholomew's, like other hospitals, endeavoured to introduce improved career structures for nurses, and as part of this process the old-established post of Matron was abolished in 1969.

In the mid-1970s the School of Nursing absorbed the former Hackney and Kingsland training schools, the Kingsland school itself being an amalgamation of the teaching facilities at the Metropolitan and St Leonard's hospitals. In 1989, midwifery was also incorporated, and the School was re-named St Bartholomew's College of Nursing and Midwifery. The name changed again when the College combined with the Princess Alexandra and Newham College (the Royal London Hospital and Newham Hospital nursing schools) in 1993. In October 1995 the combined college was incorporated into City University, and became known as the St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery, City University. As part of City University, and under the national 'Project 2000' initiative, training became more academic in nature, with a greater proportion of classroom teaching, and the other 50% of course time is spent in clinical practice, gained in a wide range of hospitals and community settings in Central and East London. At the end of their three year training programme, students were awarded a Diploma in Nursing from City University. A new pre-registration curriculum started in September 2000 in line with the UKCC paper 'Fitness to Practice'.

As of the mid-2000s, nursing education at City University no longer has a formal link to St Bartholomew's Hospital or Barts Health NHS Trust (except as the host of placements). All nurses are educated to degree level, with BScs offered in Adult, Children's or Mental Health Nursing, and a variety of postgraduate qualifications.
Access statusRestricted
Access ConditionsSome material is restricted. This is noted at file or item level in the catalogue.
Arrangement of the recordsSeries references SBHB/MO/3, SBHB/MO/4, SBHB/MO/9, SBHB/MO/11, SBHB/MO/13, SBHB/MO/16-19, SBHB/MO/21, SBHB/MO/22, SBHB/MO/25, SBHB/MO/26, SBHB/MO/28, SBHB/MO/37 and SBHB/MO/42 have not been used, or were formerly used for material which has since been recatalogued.
Extent152 volumes and 4 boxes
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