Collection: The Medical Collection

1938 - 2018
Collection containing Photographic and Electronic material
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The Medical Collection contains a series of 4,071 black and white photographic prints showing healthcare in Britain between 1938 and 1943, with a series of typed notes relating to a small selection of the prints, miscellaneous photographic and textual material. The photographs were taken by Norman Kingsley Harrison for the Topical Press Agency.

A broad range of subjects are shown in the 4,071 photographs such as medical procedures, child welfare, blood transfusion, and nurses’ training. Wartime healthcare and nursing, for example auxiliary and military hospitals, improvised wards, and bomb damage, feature heavily. The prints also show medical advances during the Second World War including the treatment of burns, the beginnings of the National Blood Service, and the nursing of military casualties. The subjects of many of the photographs are posed, though there are a few candid scenes. Locations include general and specialist hospitals, nurses' homes, convalescent homes, clinics and nurseries.

Negatives and black and white photographic prints relating to the Department of Medical Photography at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, and of possibly Cornish Hospitals, staff, patients form part of a third series. These are stored alongside correspondence, brochures, conference schedules, articles, product releases, and miscellaneous other photographic prints and negatives.

Additionally, there are also three oral history interviews with retired nurses created in 2018 by Historic England staff, with interview summaries and digital photographs of interviewees. These interviews were intended to complement the original photographs, exploring the history of nursing around the time of the Second World War and formation of the NHS.

Archival History

Provenance : Collection of unknown provenance, dating from 1930s-1950s


This Collection is divided into 5 Child Series
This Collection contains the following materials:
Photograph (Negative): 100
Photograph (Print): 4,800
Audio - Digital: 3


Contact Historic England Archive

People & Organisations

Photographer: Harrison, Norman Kingsley: Topical Press Agency Limited


Health And Welfare