To mark International Nurses Day 2017 on 12th May, discover the archive of an influential nurse leader.

Today is International Nurses Day, celebrated on what was the birthday of Florence Nightingale. To coincide with this I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new catalogue for the archive of Dame Kathleen Annie Raven (1910-1999).

Explore the Kathleen Raven Archive

Kathleen Raven was a nurse who went on to become Chief Nursing Officer between 1959 and 1972. During her time in post she was involved with important developments in nursing, particularly through the Salmon and Briggs Committees. She also advocated for the introduction of intensive care units and progressive patient care in UK hospitals.

Born in Coniston, she developed links with Leeds from her time as Matron of the Leeds General Infirmary (1949-1957), and was later awarded an honorary degree by the University of Leeds in 1996.

Kathleen Raven’s archive came to Special Collections in 1999, and the new catalogue has been created as part of our Medical Collections Project, funded by the Wellcome Trust. It has also been repackaged to help better preserve the material for generations of future researchers.

The archive is extensive and covers the span of Raven’s career, from her early days as a trainee at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, to her involvement in a number of committees and associations after her retirement. One of these was the Distressed Gentlefolk’s Aid Association, where Raven was a member of the Council between 1974 and 1989.

The records are not only work-related, the archive also contains some family photographs, letters, and a number of paintings and sketches by Raven.

Fascinatingly, Raven’s family had a link to the famous art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900). Her maternal grandmother, Kate Raven (née Smith), was Ruskin’s housekeeper at Brantwood and the archive contains a small collection of letters sent from Ruskin to Kate Raven (see: MS 1721/7/7/1).