Norland Nurses

The quintessence of post-WWI Britain’s efforts to rebuild and provide for its future generations

by Lynne Cole

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Emily Ward founded The Norland Institute in 1892, the first ever establishment for the training of young women in the care of infants. The Norland Quarterly, published from the inception of Norland until the present day, chronicles the lives and experiences of Norland Nurses through letters. Each Quarterly opens with a letter from Mrs Emily Ward and her proliferate message is always one of the importance of doing one’s duty, serving the children and following the word of God.

Mrs Ward’s message and tone through the war years mirror the collective spirit and defiance of a nation whilst also evidencing the emotional strains and tests of will that the war effort placed on the population. Writing after the end of the war, she noted that:

Life has been, and will be for many years to come, a very difficult problem for us all. The re-adjustment of our means to our ends: The boldly facing the problem of proportion in our lives; the cultivation of self-respect and dignity should occupy the thought of all who care for the future of our race.

This rebuilding of a generation would begin in the nursery, a nursery under the guidance and gentle hand of a Norland Nurse.

It was in the aftermath of the Great War that Norland values and practices came to the fore, as personified by the pleas of this Norland nurse:

we must gird ourselves afresh, and take lovingly and skilfully in hand this new, and handicapped generation…Someone must care for them, and we ought to be the best nurses considering our training and our leaders

The subsequent work these Norland Nurses undertook, to this end, is well documented and epitomises the collective effort of a nation to rebuild and provide for its future generations.


Lynne Cole is LRC Manager and Lecturer at Norland College.  For more information, please visit:

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