Museum offers chance to research lives of nurses within family tree

People have been invited to find out more about ancestors who were nurses and midwives in unique ancestry project.

People across Edinburgh are being invited to find out about their ancestors who worked within the field of nursing and midwifery in Scotland this week.

The event, hosted by Edinburgh Napier University and The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), is taking place at the National Library of Scotland on Wednesday.

It’s hoped learning about their ancestry will inspire the next generation of nurses and help boost recruitment as the numbers applying for nursing courses in the country continue to decline.

Hazel’s great-aunt and godmother Elizabeth Leitch, who died in 1990, worked as a nurse in various different roles across Edinburgh, Glasgow and the United States.

Over the years Hazel has been eager to learn more about her extensive career after hearing stories about her growing up.

People invited to trace nurses and midwives in their family tree

She recalled a story she was told about her great-aunt as a nurse during the Blitz.

Hazel told STV News: “She was based in Glasgow during the Blitz and they didn’t know whether she was still alive or not. Obviously, it was in the days before social media or mobile phones, so they couldn’t get through to her.

“They actually had to travelled through to Glasgow to make sure that she was still alive, which she was.

“I didn’t really hear very much about her actual career at the time. I was still very young, so this is why I’m trying to find out a bit more now about what her life was like.”

Now Hazel has the chance to research her life and profession through the workshop at the National Museum of Scotland.

The Royal College of Nursing are encouraging those with a family history of nursing and midwifery to apply to the sector as recruitment numbers continue to fall.

RCN showcase publications from over the years

RCN’s director of nursing Nicola Ranger said: “Since the pandemic, the numbers of people interested in applying to become a nurse and midwife have dropped in recent times.

“I know that there have always been challenges around recruitment and retention of nurses, which have varied at different times in history.

“The event is about celebrating nurses and midwives of the past and contribution.

“Hopefully it’ll encourage others to consider a career in nursing and midwifery and consider applying.”

RCN campaign manager Emma Selim added: “To understand the present, you need to look at the past as well.

“Nursing is an incredibly modern profession now and it’s very much different from the form of nursing we’re looking at in the past.

“But I think it’s important to know where you’ve been and to celebrate the incredible nurses we’ve had in Scotland in the past as well and the difference they’ve made.”

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