Fonds RBSC-ARC-1831 - B.C. History of Nursing Society fonds

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B.C. History of Nursing Society fonds

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  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on name of organization

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Physical description

22.89 m of textual records and other material

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Administrative history

The History of Nursing group grew out of a concern with the preservation of the provincial nursing heritage. Prior to the formation of the B.C. History of Nursing Professional Practice Group, the History of Nursing Interest Group met for approximately a year. This group had been part of an RNABC History of Nursing Advisory Committee, which was an ad hoc committee of the RNABC Board. This committee had been formed in 1988 to determine what should be done with a history project that had been started for the RNABC’s 75th anniversary in 1983. The Committee had also become concerned about oral history tapes that the RNABC had begun to collect.

The first meeting of the B.C. History of Nursing Professional Practice Group of the RNABC was held May 3, 1990. Their objectives are to provide a forum through which those interested in the history of nursing in British Columbia can exchange ideas and information; to encourage interest in the history of nursing in British Columbia; to promote study and research in the history of nursing in British Columbia; to encourage the preservation of materials related to the history of nursing and the lives of individual nurses; to encourage the teaching of nursing history in educational programs; and to disseminate information about the RNABC to its members. It is open to all nurses and other persons with an interest in the history of nursing who are eligible for membership and have paid required fees.

The stated goal is “to have a provincial history of nursing center in the Lower Mainland that is linked online with other agencies and/or schools of nursing in the province holding nursing artifacts or other archival materials”. Nurses, it was argued, must understand the challenges and opportunities of the past in order to prepare direction for the future. Efforts were made to incorporate nursing history into the curricula of nursing schools and faculties.

The administrative activities of the Group are carried out by an elected Executive Committee composed of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Recorder, and Committee Chairs. Positions carry two year terms. The first President, Beverly Du Gas (1990-1993) was followed by Helen Shore (1992-1994), Ethel Warbinek (1994-1998), Helen Shore (1998-2000) Sheila Zerr (2000-2003) Lois Blais (2003-2006), and Ethel Warbinek (2006-2008). When the RNABC changed its status and name to become the College of Registered Nurses of B.C., the History of Nursing group became the B.C. History of Nursing Society in 2008.

Custodial history

Prior to transfer to Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) materials were accumulated and maintained by BCHNS as an independent archives. In 2019, the BCHNS began discussions with RBSC for the transfer and ongoing care of their archival holdings. The BCHNS archives were then transferred to RBSC in 2021. Available documentation on custodial histories and sources of acquisition for the individual fonds and collections that are part of the BCHNS archives are now with RBSC.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 22.89 m of textual records, ca. 2650 photographs and extensive audiovisual materials created and/or accumulated by the British Columbia History of Nursing Society (BCHNS). The BCHNS Archives established and organized records into broad groups: fonds/subfonds, collections, biographical files, oral histories and miscellaneous materials. These categories of records have been arranged as subfonds and series under the BCHNS fonds.

Materials related to the society include records created by the group in the course of its administrative activities, and accumulated in its function of preserving material related to the history of nursing in British Columbia and elsewhere. Much of the material has a historical value, both in regard to B.C. nursing, and farther afield. A brief history of the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia is included. While there are some earlier records, most date from 1985 to 2012. The records of several committees that made annual reports to the BCHNPPG are included. For example, the Oral History Committee was established in 1981 to document the development of nursing and to capture some of the stories and activities of B.C. nurses. The Memorial Nursing Portrait Collection committee was established in 1990 to raise money for the History of Nursing Scholarship fund and to provide a lasting visual memorial for a friend or family member. Histories of hospitals and individuals are also documented. Events, programs and displays are documented through graphic, audio and textual material. Reference material includes newsletters, records related to Florence Nightingale and the roles played by nurses in war. Postcards and other historical materials more generally related to nursing are also included. Fundraising initiatives, and financial records are also included along with membership information and activities.

Records not related to the formation and ongoing functions of the B.C. History of Nursing Society are divided into 35 subfonds. While the subfonds do not generally relate to specific functions of the BCHNS, they all contribute to a general understanding of individuals and groups of nurses who have contributed to the development of nursing in British Columbia. Many individuals are represented in more than one area of the larger fonds.

The original collections consist of 5.6 m of textual records and graphic materials, audiovisual material and an extensive reference library. The textual records include a comprehensive collection of UBC student cards from 1921 to 1994, several diplomas and certificates, and conference related materials. Records from the Kootenay Lake Hospital, the Kelowna General Hospital and the Prince Rupert General Hospital consist of nursing manuals, training schedules and ledgers. Extensive photographs document historical and educational displays prepared and presented by the BCHNS. Many audiovisual materials contain records created by the Society or provide general reference information. The reference library contains books concentrating primarily on B.C nursing and will be catalogued and made available separately.

Biographical files consist of 2.4 m of textual records and ca. 382 photographs related to nurses who have made significant contributions to their profession in British Columbia. Files include records related to the person’s life and career, photographs, copies of publications, memories and biographical information and other records relating to nursing activities in B.C. An item level contents list is located at the front of each file. A full index of the files, which includes a brief biography of each subject and the file contents is available in RBSC-ARC-1831-102-15.

The oral histories consists of recordings on ca. 320 audio cassettes, 72 CDs and related textual records. These interviews date from 1987 to 2013 and are arranged alphabetically by the subject’s last name. Many interviews exist in multiple formats or have multiple cassettes and/or CDs. A small portion of interviews of high quality and enduring interest have been copied to MP3 format, these materials will be made available upon request. Hard copy summaries are arranged alphabetically in this series. A detailed index of all the oral histories is located in RBSC-ARC-1831-013-13, which includes interviewer and interviewee names, topics discussed, date of recording and other relevant information.

The original 34 subfonds have been retained and arranged as such under the BCHNS fonds. A 2022 accrual added the Richmond-Delta Professional Practice Group subfonds. Records of the society are arranged in the following series:

  1. Formation of the BCHNPPG
  2. Annual General Membership Meeting files
  3. Committee records
  4. BCHNPPG chapter groups
  5. Events, programs and displays
  6. BCHNPG fundraising
  7. History of the RNABC and its membership
  8. RNABC
  9. Published and reference material
  10. Artifacts
  11. Financial records
  12. [Original Collections]
  13. [Biographical Files]
  14. [Oral Histories]
  15. [Artifacts]

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

British Columbia History of Nursing Society Archives.


The intellectual arrangement of the BCHNS has been retained upon transfer to RBSC. The general structure has been altered slightly in order to maintain the unity of the records from the archives. Under the custody of the BCHNS archives, Society records were arranged as a subfonds. In RBSC, these materials have been arranged as series under the fonds. In order to maintain the connections of the broad categories of records and reflect the Society’s role as creator, Original Collections, Biographical Files and Oral Histories are also arranged as series under the fonds. The subsequent levels of arrangement have been adjusted accordingly, records remain consistent with BCHNS intellectual groupings. The remaining 34 subfonds have been retained as such.

Photographic and audiovisual materials that were interfiled with textual records have been separated and stored together for preservation purposes. Photographs received by RBSC that were not assigned numbers by the BCHNS have been given new identifiers beginning with PH-2000.

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Availability of other formats

A portion of the records on audiovisual materials are available in multiple formats. Some recordings originally made on audio cassette have been copied to CD format. A selection of high quality recordings have been digitized to MP3, these interviews will be available upon request. Contact archivist for further information.

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

An original finding aid provided by the BCHNS Archives is available.

BCHNS generated finding aid for Biographical Files is available -- Located in RBSC-ARC-1831-102-15.

BCHNS generated finding aid for Oral Histories is available -- Located in RBSC-ARC-1831-013-13.

Associated materials

Some individuals and groups represented in this fonds have associated fonds at other archival repositories.

To search books from the B.C. History of Nursing Library collection, please go to the UBC Library Catalogue , select “advanced search”, select “author” and use the search term: B.C. History of Nursing Society. Results will show titles from the B.C. History of Nursing Library transferred to Rare Books and Special Collections along with the archival records.

Related materials


Further accurals are expected.
An accrual of 1 file was added to the fonds in August 2023.

General note

Includes the following photographs: RBSC-ARC-1831-PH-0001 to 2718.

Physical description

Also includes:
2 scrapbooks
ca. 2718 photographs
336 audio cassettes
1 micro cassette
100 CDs
19 video cassettes
12 DVDs
118 pins
4 rings
4 crests
4 medals
2 badges
1 tote bag
1 graduation hood
1 bracelet

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Inputted by Marion Arnott April 2022.

Finding aid updated by Marion Arnott January 2023.

Finding aid updated by Matthew White in August 2023

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