Author Topic: Design in History - part 2 in the beginning............  (Read 3588 times)

nursesue

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Design in History - part 2 in the beginning............
« on: October 05, 2007, 09:22:10 PM »
It has been traditional for many years for hospital training schools to issue hospital badges to qualified nurses. However,many of these badges have their origins in military, chivalric and religious orders. The Victorians had a great love of medals and decorations. It was in the 1860s that some hospitals introduced prizes in the form of medals & badges to encourage  higher standards.
Some early examples include 1879 - the Workhouse Infirmary Nursing Association presented medal-type badges followed in 1887 by the Queen's Nursing Institute who issued its district nurses and members with a badge. The design of this has undergone many changes over the years. In 1919 finding the work and campaigning of Mrs Bedford Fenwick - the Nurse's Registration act entered the statute books. The state GNC badge that we all know came about in 1922 and in the 1940s the SEN badge came into being for England & Wales. In Scotland there was a different system and a different design for their state badge. These badges ceased to be issued in 1983 finding the restructuring of the stautory bodies and the advent of the UKCC.
The early GNC badges were made of silver ( I beleive they changed to chrome during the war).
OK history lesson over..... have you ever wondered about the GNC badges design.
It's shape is based on a rose - the symbol of England. In the centre  is Hygeia (the godess  of health) and has 2 sheaves of daffodils on either side - the symbol of Wales.The blue enamel is the colour associated with nursing. The SEN badge is the same shape and design but made of bronze with green enamel ( the colour associated with SENs). On the rear of the badge the nurses , registration number and qualifying date can be found. As for Mrs Fenwick well she is SRN number 1...
All for now - next time I'll do the same for Scotland. :)

backman

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Re: Design in History - part 2 in the beginning............
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2007, 07:46:23 AM »
Thanks Sue,it's great to explore and understand the story and design behind our badges,particularly as with the closure of the traditional hospital schools of nursing much of their histories have been lost.
 I'm not sure if iconography( the interpretation of images and symbols in art)is the right word for what we are attempting to do but it sounds close enough,even if a bit pompous!
 
I would say that broadly the main themes to be found on Nursing badges tend to be as follows;
1.Associated to the the town or locality of the hospital,often showing local geographical or architectural features (Southamptons medieval Bargate on the Childrens hospital badge,or Bostons "stump", for instance).A towns coats of arms also feature heavily.Pre NHS (and since then in reality)finding has always been an issue for hospitals and both voluntary hospitals and institutions were often dependant upon the financial support of the local community to survive or expand.This local community bond was actively cultivated and through events such as Hospital Sunday,pound weeks,hospital carnivals,etc the public could help support their hospital and their nurses.
 2.Linked to local or national benefactors. Once again hospitals might be dependant upon the support (either financial or through royal patronage) of local philanthropists and gentry.Some badges  might feature their coat of arms such as Lord Mayor Treloar or features relating to such supporters(one notable one being the Rhyl School of Nursing finding fox badge-based upon a benefactors winning racehorse!)
3. finding symbolic religious icons,most notably the cross ,the Good Samaritan,the Madonna and child,Saints and other religious figures.The origins of the modern hospital systems lay in the  church and the high Christian moral values of the Victorian and post Victorian eras when many nursing schools were founded was bound to have a strong influence of the sense of duty to the sick.(Unfortunately we are still trying to shake off this image of nurses being Ministering Angels today) Many mottos on badges encouraged this sense of duty and service to others.
4.finding symbols relating to nursing and learning,most notably the nurses lamp and the open book or sometimes the owl(wisdom?).I would say that after the cross,the lamp is possibly the most common image on nursing badges.(Interestingly the type of roman oil lamp featured is of a symbolic representation rather than the real Nightingale lady of the lamp turkish paper lantern used in the Crimea.)Other symbolism might relate to the branch of nursing featured,so Ophthalmology badges are sometimes eye or teardrop shaped.Maternity badges may feature swaddled babies or new life such as the Glasgow snowdrops badge.Orthopaedics hospitals sometimes features trees as a sign of strength and growth.

As you can see there is usually a story behind the design of most nursing badges,many of which would have been selected by the local staff or matrons of a particular institution and it would be nice to try to preserve these for future generations long after the Nursing badge is consigned to the archive or collectors drawer.

nursesue

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Re: Design in History - part 2 in the beginning............
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2007, 12:27:58 PM »
thanks for your reply Pete - I hadn't realised, until I started collecting, how complex an issue the designs on badges was.  There are many reasons for the designs - mythology, local relevance amongst many. I was asked to write an article or 2 to explore this issue with the hope, that other members such as yourself, would contribute to a very indepth subject. My future plans for articles is to take a broad look at designs and to give examples ( where possible) of badges where they can be found. If possible I'll try and list the designers name - but this is a subject that could run into many hours and pages - which is why I'm just writing a brief article on each paticular subject such as Midwifery, animals on badges, mythology, local history etc. My next article will be about the Scottish State badges ( will be posted during the next football match!!!). Please feel free to correct me should I get anything wrong as you are the expert in this field ( we've emailed on MSN nurse badges and via ebay - oh and thanks for the lovely simpson memorial badge)
sue :-*

 

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