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2018 Women’s History Network Community Prize winner


The History Press is proud to sponsor the Women’s History Network’s annual Community History Project prize. The prize is awarded to the team that creates a project by, about, or for women in a particular locale or community completed between January 2017 and May 2018. The prize awards £500 to the winner to develop further publications and research. 

The Women’s History Network is a national association and charity for the promotion of women’s history and the encouragement of people interested in women’s history. Established in 1991, the network reaches out to welcome women and men from any background who share a passion for women’s history. 

The prize is judged by a panel of representatives drawn from the Women’s History Network, The History Press, heritage professionals and community historians. The prize was awarded at the Women’s History Network’s annual conference at the University of Portsmouth. Thank you to the teams from across the UK who submitted their projects for consideration and congratulations to our 2018 winner.

Service Scrapbooks: Nursing, Storytelling and the First World War: 

To carry out their first Heritage Lottery Funded project, a team of 32 volunteer nurses worked with the RCN Library and Archives team to make the stories of 10 First World War nurses available to a public audience for the first time. They scanned and transcribed 976 scrapbook pages from the archives, using them to recreate these nurses’ lives online. NHS staff worked with RCN Library and Archive Service’s Writer in Residence, cardiac nurse and poet Molly Case, to create written responses to the digitised scrapbooks.  These poems were published as an anthology for distribution to patients.

The Service Scrapbooks project website is a freely accessible resource created by nurses in collaboration with our Library and Archive Service and funded by the HLF.  Our RCN History of Nursing Society has just over 1,700 members - health care practitioners, nurses, students and retired staff across the UK - who are interested in nursing history.  None are professional historians, though a very small number of them are academic nurses who also write on nursing history.  They have been volunteering on various projects, such as oral history for many years but this is their most ambitious project to date.

The judges said: “We were pleased to see the involvement of retired and practicing nurses and that they were responsible, with help and training, for the research and digitisation of the scrap books and albums. We enjoyed the blogs about their experience and learning -  it clearly became a labour of love and this shines through in their outputs. As one of our judges put it, ‘A real sense of the nurses comes through’. We were very impressed by the other ways you engaged people in this project, such as having a writer in residence and using the scrapbooks as stimulus. We thought the anthology was lovely, combining poetry written by participants today (including school children) with material from the scrapbooks.

We all felt that recognizing the importance of these scrapbooks in your archive and then finding a way to get the material online, especially in the centenary year of the end of the First World War, made you very worthy winners. We believe that the work you’ve done is of national and international importance and helps address the gender imbalance in accessible primary material from the Great War as well as shedding light on the work of the nurses and their lives.”

Highly Commended Projects:

Glasgow Women’s Library: Voices From The Belvidere Fever Hospital

Impressions Gallery / New Focus: Women of No Man’s Land: Young People Uncover Women’s Viewpoints on the First World War

West Dunbartonshire Women’s History Group: World War II in West Dunbartonshire

Year 4 Cavendish School, Manchester: Margaret Ashton, Local Suffragist

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