Identity Statement for An Bord Altranais

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P220
  • Title: Records of An Bord Altranais
  • Dates: 1902–96
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 67 volumes, 78 boxes
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Institutional history

An Bord Altranais (the Nursing Board) was established under the Nurses Act 1950, passed by Dr Noel Browne, Minister for Health in the first Inter-Party Government. Previous to this, nursing and midwifery in Ireland had been regulated by the General Nursing Council for Ireland (established 1919) and the Central Midwives Board for Ireland (established 1918). The principle function of both of these bodies was to regulate the registration of nurses and midwives in Ireland; after 1922, the area comprising the Irish Free State. Related to this was the enforcement of nursing standards and the investigation of complaints against nurses and midwives, which in several cases led to their being struck from the register. The General Nursing Council also oversaw nursing education during the 1920s and 1930s, and began holding centralised nursing examinations in the late 1930s, as well as inspecting nurse training hospitals to ensure that nurse training and facilities for trainee nurses were of an acceptable standard. In both bodies, general policy was decided by an appointed board and various committees. Both boards were presided over by Edward Coey Bigger, a noted public health campaigner, until his death in 1942. The day-to-day affairs of the Council and Board were usually left in the hands of the registrars; throughout the 1930s and 1940s the registrar of the General Nursing Council was Anne Black, and that of the Central Midwives Board was Olive Meyler.

The General Nursing Council and the Central Midwives Board were amalgamated to create An Bord Altranais, with the Central Midwives Board becoming the Midwives’ Committee of the new organisation. An Bord Altranais held its first meeting on 7 June 1951. Dr P. McCarvill served initially as chairman, and Dr Ninian Falkiner as chairman of the Midwives’ Committee. Olive Meyler was retained initially as registrar/secretary, but in 1952 a new post of chief executive officer was created, and James Keogh, previously county librarian for Longford/Westmeath, was appointed. He served in this position until his retirement in 1982, and throughout this period he was the primary point of contact between An Bord Altranais and the nursing profession. He was replaced by Noel Daly in 1982, who in turn was replaced by Eugene Donoghue in 1988.

From 1951 onwards, the role and competencies of An Bord Altranais increased. Their core functions of maintaining the nursing registers and organising the nursing examinations continued. Inspections of training hospitals (general, psychiatric, mental handicap, sick children’s, tuberculosis, maternity) were carried out more frequently, and more information was provided. In addition, An Bord Altranais organised several training courses in public health nursing, occupational health nursing, and clinical teaching. Syllabi for nurse training courses were updated, and new divisions of the register, for example for orthopaedic nurses and nurse tutors, were opened up. Standards for nurse training were also evolving, a process that accelerated when Ireland joined the E.E.C. and accepted European standards of nurse training and education, although the standards of training given in Ireland and the UK had always been very similar so as to allow for reciprocal registration of nurses in these jurisdictions.

In the mid-1980s An Bord Altranais began using information technology for its nursing registers, and from 1985 the nurse registers are stored on computer database rather than traditional bound volumes. In that year An Bord Altranais was re-constituted under the 1985 Nurses Act, under which terms it continues to operate. It now consists of twenty-nine members, seventeen of whom are nurses and midwives elected by the nursing profession itself from the various branches of nursing. The remainder are appointed by the serving Minister for Health. In March 2008 the president of An Bord Altranais was Anne Carrigy and the chief executive officer was Eugene Donoghue. 

Archival History

The archives of An Bord Altranais were formerly housed in their previous premises in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2. The Board’s inclination to seek a long term disposition of their archives was stimulated by an impending move to new premises, and in June 2007 agreement was reached with University College Dublin to establish the An Bord Altranais Archives Project. This provided for the physical transfer of the collection to the curatorship of UCD Archives, the descriptive cataloguing of the archives, and controlled access. The transfer took place in July 2007 before An Bord Altranais moved premises to Blackrock, County Dublin.


Scope and Content

The materials in the collection reflect the core functions of An Bord Altranais: the formulation of nursing policy, the education of nurses, and the maintenance of nurse registers.

The collection contains a full set of General Nursing Council/An Bord Altranais minute books and related material, 1919–85, including material from the Central Midwives Board prior to its amalgamation with An Bord Altranais in 1950. There are also minute books from the Board’s committees, the main ones being the Finance and General Purposes Committee, Psychiatric Nursing Committee, Mental handicap Nursing Committee and Midwives Committee. This section also contains material on the running of the Board itself, such as correspondence relating to staffing, financial matters and premises.

In terms of educational activities, the collection contains registers of nursing examination results, 1961–93, along with files of examination questions and material on courses organised by the Board itself, mainly the Public Health Nursing Course, 1946–90, along with reports, surveys and research on nurse education in Ireland and abroad. This education section also contains the largest single element of the collection, the nurse training hospital files, which are files of correspondence, inspection reports and other material relating to each hospital in which nurse training was undertaken.

The registration material contains a full set of nurse and midwifery registers, 1919–85, along with registers for Jubilee Nurses, 1890–1967, and a good deal of correspondence with regard to registration. This section also contains about ninety sample individual nurse and midwifery files that were retained by An Bord Altranais, dating mainly from the 1920s to the 1940s, along with files. Finally, there are several correspondence files, Irish health authorities, UK nursing bodies and Irish nurse representative bodies.

The collection consists of 47 bound volumes containing nurse and midwifery registers, 20 bound volumes of minute books, and three bound volumes of cash books. There are 20 phase boxes holding the examination registers, 58 archival boxes of loose material, and one portfolio folder holding larger registration certificates. The minute books and loose material have been microfilmed for production in the UCD Archives reading room. The nursing and midwifery registers and examination registers have been digitised in pdf form and are produced for consultation on compact disc.

  • Access: Application to consult the collection must be made to the depositor. Details of the procedure may be had from UCD Archives (UCDA). UCDA reader's ticket and appointment necessary. Produced for consultation in microform and digital format.
  • Language: English, with a small number of documents in Irish.
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue