The Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Today would be the two hundredth birthday of Florence Nigthtingale, and the World Health Organisation designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in her honour. Although the Coronavirus crisis may have taken some of the attention which might have otherwise been paid to this remarkable woman, it has also emphasised the importance of nurses.

One of the results of the Corvid-19 crisis, has been the release for anybody to read, of all the Scientific American Coronavirus related articles, at


A particularly relevant recent Scientific American article is “Nurses Are Playing a Crucial Role in this Pandemic—as Always” – interesting to see the similarities and differences between nursing in the USA and here in the UK, as well as an acknowledgement of the shared history, leading back to the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ – not only for her care for her patients, but for her putting nursing on a professional basis, with an emphasis on hygiene, infection control, statistics and training.

I am particularly grateful for the kindness and professionalism of the nurses of the Oxford Churchill Hospital, both the Peritoneal Dialysis team and the Renal Transplant team.


Everybody who is reading this article has been born, which is a minor miracle in itself, which we take for granted nowadays. I have already written, in ‘On being born‘ about historically high mortality rates for both infants and mothers, and it is due to improvements in midwifery that we all benefit from this.

Florence Nightingale

A side effect of writing this blog is finding out about subjects of which I had no significant previous knowledge. Reading, mostly from the Wikipedia article, I found several items that had a particular resonance

My Methodist friends would, I hope be pleased to learn of the Wesleyan influences on her theology.

Margaret Box, nurse and midwife

My Great Aunt, Margaret Box, left me much correspondence relating to her time nursing in Salonica and Serbia, but little of that actually relates to nursing. I do have some information from Census and other records which give a skeletal framework to her career.

She trained as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital between 1914 and 1917

I know from the Midwives Roll of 1931 that she qualified as a Midwife on 9th February 1918, by Central Midwives Board Examination.

From September 1918 to April 1919 she was nursing in Salonica and Serbia.

The 1923 Nursing Register shows her living in Frensham, Surrey, with her nursing qualification being from Guy’s Hospital in 1917.

In 1931 and 1935 Midwives Rolls she was a Midwife at the General Lying-in-Hospital in Lambeth.

In 1937, the Register of Nurses shows her living in Broadstairs, Kent, with a date of registration as a Nurse of 17th February 1922 – this gives her 1914-1917 training dates and nursing certification.

The 1939 Census shows her as a Matron, State Registered Nurse, in Broadstairs, Kent.

I still have several family history related letters I have not read, but as far as I know, that is all I can discover about her nursing career.

One comment

  1. John, what an amazing woman. Great example for International Nurse’s day, and so good you are recording her story

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