Diversity exhibition set to open at the RCN

An exhibition celebriting diversity in nursing is set to open at the RCN next month.
Diversity exhib

An exhibition celebrating diversity in nursing is set to open at the RCN next month.

International School Students outside the College entrance 1957
International School Students outside the College entrance in 1957

Hidden in Plain Sight: Celebrating Nursing Diversity opens to the public at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre on 11 October. It explores the lives and work of of black and minority ethnic, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, nurses.

Many of the exhibits on display have been collected as a result of a campaign by staff at the centre to help expand its archive of nursing memorabilia.

Library events and exhibitions coordinator Frances Reed said the campaign had helped fill in some significant gaps in the archive.

She said: ‘We had lots of information about the Caribbean nurses who came to the UK in the 1950s, but hardly anything about Asian nurses.

‘Likewise, we had items detailing gay men in nursing, but nothing at all about lesbian women.


‘It is difficult to get people to speak about the subject, since most consider being a lesbian incidental to their work as a nurse.

‘Nurses get to know quite intimate details about patients’ lives, and there is always a question about when their own lives be communicated.’

RCN professional lead for older people and dementia Dawn Garrett has written a poem called Lemons on the Night Shift for the exhibition.

There is also a photograph of first world war nurses Lady Hermione Blackwood and Cathlin du Sautoy. The pair worked in France during the 1920s and adopted two children before moving to the UK together as a family.

The exhibition also includes a section on deaf and disabled nurses, including interviews with Susan Eagling who was one of the first three nurses in the UK to register as a British Sign Language user.

It runs until 10 March 2018.

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