Recruitment of Nurses after Second World War

Today nursing is a popular career choice for many school leavers but did you know that there was a shortage of nurses during and immediately after the Second World War? And so a campaign began to recruit women into the nursing profession.

On 14 January 1946, Campbell Advertising submitted an advertising campaign of slides for theatre screenings to the Department of Health and Home Affairs aimed at recruiting trainee nurses. The campaign was designed to encourage girls to choose nursing as a career over office or retail work, and highlighted the advantages of a nursing career, such as free board and lodging, medical attention, sick leave and four weeks of annual leave.

Mr R. H. Robinson, the Under Secretary for the Department of Health and Home Affairs, approved the slides for screening in suburban and country theatres from 17 March 1947 until 14 June 1947.

Design for a theatre slide advertising nursing training, 14 January 1946. Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 23548
Design for a theatre slide advertising nursing training, 14 January 1946. QSA Digital Image ID 23548

The Queensland Health Education Council decided that a maximum of £500 was to be spent on the campaign. The Council estimated the campaign would reach about 306,000 females of all ages and the slides would screen over 5,100 times.

While we can’t be sure of the success of this recruitment campaign, the shortage of nurses highlighted the need for improvement across nursing, including education, conditions and wages.

Design for a theatre slide advertising nursing training, 14 January 1946. Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 23549
Design for a theatre slide advertising nursing training, 14 January 1946. QSA Digital Image ID 23549

Queensland State Archives holds many interesting nursing records including:

  • Health and Home Affairs Department – General Correspondence in Series 6679
  • Examination Papers from the Nurses and Masseurs Registration Board Series 16821
  • Corporate Services Committee Minute books from Queensland Nursing Council  Series 19271
  • Registration Board Files Series 19366

And that’s just to name a few.

For more information, take a look at Queensland State Archives Brief Guide 53 Nurses, Queensland State Archives online Exhibition web page on Nursing in Queensland and the historical essay written by Margaret Cook on Nursing in Queensland

Prepared by

Mandy Swingle

Reference Archivist

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit www.archives.qld.gov.au

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