Nursing History Research Unit (NHRU)

The NHRU fosters scholarship in nursing and health care history through research, education and the development of links between those either working in, or who wish to work in, nursing and health care history.

The unit is also engaged in researching, writing and publishing in the area of nursing and health care. Find out about our research.


THE IMAGE OF THE NURSE – in postcards, photographs, film and television

Red cross nurse c. 1935, Italy

History Week Exhibition 2013
Room C1.02, Sydney Nursing School

Find out how the image of nurses and nursing has changed over a century, reflecting the social and community customs of the times.

From the idealised view of the nurse of the 19th century, the exhibition takes us through the decades, as the role of the nurse and her image gradually becomes more professional, personal and more radical in its content. You can also see archival film/video from the 1920s, '30s and '50s, showing the often difficult working and living conditions of Australian women in bush nursing, district nursing and midwifery. The images explore history, fiction, humour, erotica and more.

Open to the public during History Week and for some months afterwards, on Tuesdays or by appointment.
, T 93510635 or M 0413868051

Two books about the truth behind the myths of women's lives

Vision for the Bush

The NSW Bush Nursing Association 1911–1974
R Lynette Russell, Judith A Cornell
Australian College of Nursing

Organisations such as the NSW Bush Nursing Association were critical elements in the development of health care in rural and remote Australia.

A Greater Guilt

Noeline Kyle

A brutal murder of a child in the English village of Road in 1860 remained an unsolved crime until the sensational confession of Constance Emilie Kent in 1865.

Scholarship in nursing and health care history

The NHRU encourages active involvement and interaction through:

  • researching, writing and publishing by members
  • promoting and fostering historical research
  • supervising students undertaking postgraduate research
  • being a resource for other researchers in the field
  • providing a resource to those engaged in teaching in this area in the undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programs offered by Sydney Nursing School
  • becoming engaged in other relevant activities that have the potential to promote scholarship in this area
  • developing links with other established nursing and health care history units (or centres) both nationally and internationally
  • liaising with individual historians working in the area of nursing and health care
  • establishing a website which will provide ongoing information about the Unit and its activities
  • promoting the collection and protection of relevant historical records
  • developing a specialised electronic archive of significant material that can be used by those undertaking research into this area
  • providing advice on the location of available historical sources and encouraging their development and/or use
  • seeking internal and external funding to support this historical research.