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Nurses on film: a century of archives now online

From first world war propaganda to Call the Midwife, nursing has had a place on film for more than a century. Historian and journalist Chris Holme reviews some of the free highlights available online.
film

From first world war propaganda to Call the Midwife, nursing has had a place on film for more than a century. Historian and journalist Chris Holme reviews some of the free highlights available online

The growth of online archives has unlocked films showing how previous generations of nurses were depicted on camera.

There aren’t that many early examples of real-life nurses on film, but original footage can be viewed free at the click of a mouse.

It didn’t get off to a great start, as one documentary shot in 1917 by the French army’s film propaganda unit shows. It depicts nurses at Villers-Cotterêts, a large clearing station for the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont in northern France. It was the first of several women's hospitals set up by Elsie Inglis, a Scottish doctor and suffragist.

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