Focus On... Women in Uniform
* Nurses in the Crimea - Sources  
Nurses in the Crimea

1. Introduction

2. Profile

3. Sources

Nurses in the British Army
Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps
Scottish Women's Hospitals
Women's Royal Naval Service
Women in WWII

Background Information

The National Archives publishes a very useful research guide, British Army: Nurses and Nursing Services which gives an overview to the subject of military nursing, along with a list of records held both at the National Archives and elsewhere.

The records listed that concern nurses in the Crimea are:

c.1851-c.1856 Letters of recommendation for nurses applying to go to the Crimea, arranged alphabetically in bundles WO 25/264National Archives Catalogue

1853-1857 Nurses in the Crimea. Correspondence and memoranda WO 43/963National Archives Catalogue

1855-1858 Lists of ladies, nurses and orderlies embarked for England from the Crimea WO 43/991National Archives Catalogue

If you are able to visit the National Archives you can use Document Orderinglinks to glossary to order the documents WO 25/264National Archives Catalogue.These were delivered a very large box, packed with letters. Fortunately the letters were grouped alphabetically, so a search of the “D” bundle produced the letter from Elizabeth Davis.

To obtain copies of documents held at the National Archives if you are not able to visit in person you can search The Catalogue and then order copies of documents. However the catalogue does not contain the names of individual nurses, so it might be better to employ an independent researcher.

Other bundles in the same box contained interesting documents including the Memorandum of Agreement shown on the introduction page.

General background information was obtained by performing internet searches using google.

Profile of Elizabeth Davis

This information was provided by Eirionedd A. Baskerville from Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/National Library Wales.

The information about Elizabeth Davis is very sparse. Despite the excellent biography it was not possible to trace her birth or death certificates or any census entries for the only known address (shown on the letter to the Sidney Herbert) via the Family Records Centre.

Bibliography from Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/National Library Wales

The Autobiography of Elizabeth Davis, A Balaclava Nurse, Daughter of Dafydd Cadwaladyr edited by Jane Williams (Ysgafell). Two volumes (London, Hurst & Blacket, 1857).

The Autobiography of Elizabeth Davis. Betsy Cadwaladyr: A Balaclava Nurse edited by Jane Williams (Ysgafell), with a new introduction by Deirdre Beddoe. (Dinas Powys, HONNO, 1987). ISBN 1-870206-00-2.

Entry for Elizabeth Davi(e)s in The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1959). See also the entry for Dafydd Cadwaladyr.

See our partner page for more information on the National Library of Wales

Other sources

The Florence Nightingale Collection at the London Metropolitan Archives (ref. H1/ST/NC)

Florence Nightingale Museum

Pathways to the Past - Trafalgar to Korea


The National Army Museum are hosting "The British Army and the Crimean War" exhibition. It opens on October 3rd 2003 and features a case devoted exclusively to Florence Nightingale containing exhibits of the highest quality and a life-sized model of Mary Seacole. There is also a chapter on 'Women and the Crimea' in the accompanying exhibition catalogue. The show is anticipated to run until 2005. For more information see the National Army Museum website.

Further Reading

One hundred years of Army nursing: the story of the British Army Nursing Services from the time of Florence Nightingale to the present day
Ian Hay (Major-General John Hay Beith, M.C.). - London : Cassell, 1953. - 387p., 16p. of plates: ill., maps ; 22cm. - index.
Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books Classification: 02(41).8181/1
Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books Accession No.: 32090

Angels and Citizens. British Women as Military Nurses 1854-1914
Anne Summers.
Publisher: Threshold Press Ltd
ISBN: 190315202X

Nurses in the British Army Next - Nurses in the British Army
The National Archives Newsletter Icon

Send me The National Archives’ newsletter

A monthly round-up of news, blogs, offers and events.