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  • Title
    Muriel Knox Doherty papers, 1923-1960s
  • Creator
  • Call number
    MLMSS 442
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
    : Diaries, May 1945 - Aug. 1946).
    Partly Digitised : Letters in Box 11/Folders 1-4 only selected for digitisation
  • Physical Description
    2 metres of textual material, some files include clippings (12 boxes) - manuscript, printed, typescript

    Australian born nurse Muriel Knox Doherty's long and influential nursing career began in 1921 as a trainee nurse at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. She advanced to staff nurse then charge nurse before embarking on an overseas tour and nursing practice in Britain and Europe. She paid her own way to gain qualifications from the University of London as a tutor sister. She returned to Australia the first qualified tutor sister in the first Preliminary Training School for nurses which she had helped establish at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1933.
    During World War II Doherty served with disinction as the first matron of the Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service which she had helped to establish. After the war she joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)and was posted to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany.
    Doherty arrived at Bergen-Belsen on 11 July 1945, two months after the camp's liberation from the Nazis by the British on 15 April, and took up the position of Chief Nurse and Principal Matron. She faced the mammoth task of establishing a hospital at Bergen-Belsen and nursing the thousands of survivors. One of the major difficulties was formulating a diet suitable for people who had literally been starving to death.
    Doherty's meticulous `Community Letters' from Belsen, written to groups of family and friends in the early morning or late at night, often by candlelight, record her personal insights into Bergen-Belsen and her sometimes critical observations of the nursing profession and military establishment. Her letters offer a woman's perspective on war and its aftermath and document yet another facet of Australian wartime involvement. They record the extraordinary suffering of the inmates and the plight of Displaced Persons tormented by the hopelessness of their situation, many unable or unwilling to return home.
    Doherty remained at Bergen-Belsen for a year and in 1945 was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal (1st Class) for her work at the camp. During 1946 she worked in nurse education in Poland before returning to Australia where she was active in the advancement of nursing affairs. Muriel Knox Doherty died in 1988 aged 92.
  • Scope and Content
    SERIES 01: SCRAPBOOKS (Boxes 01-10)
    Box 01
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `Air Raid Precautions World War 2 1939-1945'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Clothes' Rationing (Nurses) 1942. World War 2.'
    Folder 3: Scrapbook titled `Proposed Nationalisation of Nursing Australia. 1942-1949'

    Box 02
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `How it all Began 1954'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `General Care of Old People 1956-1960'
    Folder 3: Scrapbook titled `The Old People's Welfare Council of New South Wales 1957-1960'

    Box 03
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `N.S.W. Old People Hospitals 1954-1959' Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `N.S.W. Old People Rehabilitation 1954-1960'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Old People General 1955-1960'
    Folder 3: Scrapbook titled `NSW Old People Nutrition and Meals on Wheels 1956-1960'
    Folder 4: Scrapbook titled `Old People Housing 1956-1960'

    Box 04
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `N.S.W. Old People Clubs & Centres 1956-1960'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Old People (Psychiatrics) 1955-1958'
    Folder 3: Scrapbook titled `Age Pensions and Pensioners 1955-1960'
    Folder 4: Scrapbook titled `Old People Country Women's Association 1957-1960'
    Folder 5: Scrapbook titled `Old People Red Cross 1957-1959'
    Folder 6: Scrapbook titled `Geriatrics & Gerontology 1957-1960'
    Folder 7: Scrapbook titled `The First Old People's Week to be held in Australia (N.S.W.) 1958'
    Folder 8: Council of Social Service Bulletin `with Reports of Overseas Observations [on aged care] by M.K. Doherty & H.B. Hetherington'

    Box 05
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `Shortage of Nurses in New South Wales. 1936-1950'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `The Shortage of Nurses in New South Wales and The Civilian Nursing Services Recruitment Bureau 1939-1950'

    Box 06
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `Plans for Reconstruction of the Nursing Profession N.S.W. 1942-1947'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Desire and Need for the Reconstruction of teh Nursing Profession in Australia 1923-1951'

    Box 07X
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `Standardisation of Practical Nursing Procedures in New South Wales 1934-1944'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Post Graduate Courses for Nurses Australia 1933-1959'

    Box 08
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `The N.S.W. Nurses' Association 1931-1953'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Florence Nightingale Memorial Committe of Australia 1934-1949'
    Folder 3: Scrapbook titled `Moves for Unity of All Nursing Organisations Australia 1946-1951'

    Box 09
    Scrapbook titled `Prince Henry Hospital Sydney Nursing Education 1937-1938'

    Box 10
    Folder 1: Scrapbook titled `Australain Nursing Federation and Australasian Trained Nurses' Association 1922-1948'
    Folder 2: Scrapbook titled `Nurses' Registration Board of New South Wales 1924-1953'
    Folder 3: Scrapbook titled `Institute of Hospital Matrons N.S.W. and A.C.T. 1938-1950'
    Folder 4: Scrapbook titled `Efforts to Collect Material for a History of Nursing in N.S.W. 1947-1953'
    Folder 5: Copies of `The International Council of Nurses 1944-1952'
    Folder 6: `Nurses' Registration Board Practical Nursing Examination Questions', 1933+
    Folder 7: `Prince Henry Hospital Preliminary training School Lecture and Demonstration Notes', 1939
    Folder 8: Printed material produced by World Health Organisation
    Folder 9: Miscellaneous material re. aged care including lists of talks presented by Doherty

    SERIES 02: LETTERS (Box 11)
    Folders 1-4: Letters written while serving at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, and in Poland with United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, May 1945-September 1946 (Digitised: see attached record, or Issue: Microfilm CY 4579)

    SERIES 03: DIARIES (Box 11)
    Folder 5: Diary written while serving with United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Bergen-Belsen and Poland, May 1945-May 1946 (Issue: Microfilm CY 4580)
    Folder 6: Diary written during European trip, May - August 1946 (Issue: Microfilm CY 4580)

    Box 12
    Original wrappings with Doherty's instructions regarding access, 1960s
  • System of arrangement
    Arranged by Muriel Knox Doherty
  • Source
    Presented by Muriel Knox Doherty in 1960.
  • General note

    Microfilm copy of letters in Box 11/Folders 1-4 available at CY 4579, frames 1-455
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