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Researching British Army Nurses is a Course

Researching British Army Nurses

Ended Dec 17, 2017

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Full course description

Course Date:

Nov 6 - Dec 18, 2017


6 weeks


3 hrs/week



Course Type:





Join us to learn researching skills using authentic records about British Army nurses, covering the period from the Victorian wars to more recent times.

The course will last six weeks. Each week, we will use archival documents to explore different periods and different aspects of historical research, allowing us to place the information in context and make sense of it. Participants will also have the opportunity to publish their military nursing research on the British Army Nurses wiki at


We will cover:

  • Using medal rolls and the challenges of transcription, context, and language.
  • Using newspaper and journal archives, and the ethics of historical research.
  • Using diaries and letters, and military nursing as part of the wider history of women and of nursing.
  • Using photographs and paintings, identifying uniforms and badges.
  • Using the Census and definitions of nurses and nursing.
  • Using The National Archives, Kew, and the importance of corroboration.

Image: [Photograph Q 2401]. A Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. The Joint War Organisation. 22nd June 1917. The United Kingdom Government. Source: The Imperial War Museums. Copyright: Public domain.

Target Audience: Anyone.

Course is offered by the QARANC Association.

Course Instructors

Keiron Spires

Keiron Spires

QVRM TD, Lt Col (Rtd)

I joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1974 straight from school as a 16 year-old Apprentice. I have, in total, served in the Regular Army for a total of 12 years and then in the Reserves for a further 23 years as a military nurse. Read More.

Eventually I qualified as a Nurse Tutor with a BA Nursing Education from the Institute of Advanced Nursing, Royal College of Nursing with the Victoria University of Manchester. I consolidated my interests in eLearning by undertaking the MEd eLearning by eLearning from the University of Sheffield. I used these skills to good effect in pursuit of my hobby of genealogy and have successfully traced our families back over many generations.

My PhD (completed in 2013) was on Nurses in the Boer War 1899-1902. The Boer War was important for British military nursing as it was the first major conflict for Britain in which nurses in large numbers had been deployed, and at the end of the war a new nursing service was created, the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), which saw nurses becoming a formed component of the British Army.

I am currently researching the impact of Boer War nurse veterans on nursing in WW1, and also looking at the similarities between the writings of German and British nurses in their diaries.

Alison Spires

Alison Spires

Independent Military Nursing Historian

My military nursing career spanned 28 years service in both the Regular and Territorial Army. I have a first degree in psychology and a master’s degree in medical anthropology, where my dissertation examined the experiences of Army Medical Service volunteers in the Gulf War of 1990. Read More.

I also studied for an MA in the History of Medicine, Science and Society at Birkbeck, University of London, and more recently, I have undertaken a Post Graduate Diploma in Conservation at Camberwell College of Arts (UnIversity of the Arts, London) in the year following my retirement. This combination of studies has enabled me to gain a unique understanding of the pyscho-cultural aspects of military nursing history, as well as giving me a deep appreciation of the value of finding and preserving the cultural heritage of British military nursing.

The historical research for my MA examined the link between the documented experiences of British Army nurses (and other women) who served in the Boer War 1899-1902, and the subsequent formation of the QAIMNS in 1902.

My current interests lie in documenting the experiences of British Army nurses to form a body of knowledge about what military nurses did and do and how their experiences affect them personally. Allied to that is an interest in the collective remembering of the contribution of women to British war efforts, and in their experiences.