The Very First Issue of Nursing Notes: a Practical Journal for Nurses, 1888

We’re celebrating International Day of the Midwife 2017 by making available, for free download, the first issue of the very first volume of Nursing Notes, which became the official journal of the Midwives Institute (later the Royal College of Midwives). A searchable, scanned copy of this historic issue is free to download as a PDF:…

Fantastic Finds: A Mystery Midwifery Certificate from the 18th Century

You never know what you might find delving through a backlog of museum accessions. But that’s what makes it fun. Earlier this month, our Museum Curator for the Royal College of Midwives Heritage Team uncovered a beautiful (if somewhat battered) 18th century midwifery certificate awarded to a Mary Burford of the City of London Lying-in…

Word of the Month: Bossi Dilator

Our Word of the Month for April is Bossi’s Dilator. One glance is all you need to tell that a Bossi Dilator is a pretty grim looking instrument. Dating back to late 19th century, the Bossi dilator was used to open the cervix during examinations and childbirth.  This model was designed by L.M. Bossi, professor…

Word of the Month: Breast Pump

This time Word of the Month is a familiar one: Breast Pump Breast pumps are manual or electronically powered devices used by mothers to encourage lactation. They can be used to stimulate lactation for those with trouble breastfeeding or they can be used to extract milk to be placed in a bottle for a later…

Edith Mary Pye (1876-1965) Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur

This International Women’s Day we recognise the heroic efforts of Edith Pye, midwife, Quaker, humanitarian and International Relief Organizer. Edith Mary Pye was one of the earliest certified midwives, having qualified in 1906 at Clapham School of Midwifery, and she served as President of the Royal College of Midwives between 1928 and 1949. But it…

Word of the Month: Walcher’s Position

Walcher’s Position is a technique used in labour where the mother reclines with her back supported and her legs dangling. This technique was used to encourage the pelvis to open a fraction wider. The position can be held for a limited number of contractions and can ease the delivery of a baby that may be…

Word of the Month: de Ribes Bag

Welcome to the RCM Heritage Blog’s newest feature: Word of the Week. In it we take an entry from The Midwife’s Pronouncing Dictionary and Encyclopaedia, beginning with the 1929 edition, and provide some historical context using the museum, archive and library collections of the Royal College of Midwives.

Nursing Notes: August 1914

This month’s blog post is taken from the August 1914 volume of the Nursing Notes journal. At the start of August 1914, European nations were busy declaring war on one another and so orchestrating the outbreak of what would turn out to be the First World War. Meanwhile, as unaware as everybody else of just…

Nursing Notes, May 1888

For this month’s post we go right back to the early days of the journal, to May of 1888, just 6 years following the establishment of the Midwives Institute. The most striking message given in this volume of the journal, is the mission of the Midwives’ Institute, and indeed of Nursing Notes – to reach…

Nursing Notes, March 1926

This month’s post comes from the 1926 volume of Nursing Notes: a drug-fuelled heritage post is on the cards this month, as we look back to 1926 and follow issues concerning the midwifery profession! The leading article concerns the use of opium by midwives – I hasten to add that this does not refer to the…

Nursing Notes October 1902

This month’s post comes from the 1902 volume of Nursing Notes. Back to 1902 and the year of the passing of the Midwives Act, and this issue of Nursing Notes reflects the transition stage which the midwifery profession was going through. These early issues of the Nursing Notes are wonderful examples of social thinking and…