Hale Nurses Union
Embrace Your History
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Yes, we can "do history", and, most of the time, history helps. It helps us to locate ourselves, to see how we fit in to the arc of our work and our lives. Also, as we learn the history of how things like our unions came to be, we can see how folks who came before us helped to give us ways to improve our lives. In that way, knowing our history helps us prepare for our futures.

So how can we "do history"? There are lots of approaches. They all try to give us a picture of how things were at an earlier period and what changed over time.

So, we can start with actual pictures. Finding photos starts by asking long-term workers if they have photos from the time they began their nursing careers. They might have photos from nursing school, from graduation or their pinning ceremonies, or from their first days on the job. They may also may photos from a special event: a party, a demonstration, a special course or a meeting.

And once they get started showing you pictures, they may have stories to tell you about the photos, even if they don't remember the exact dates or names of the folks in the photos. Stories are another way to "do history".

Preparing to get people's stories is a separate topic. See the Story prep section.

You can record stories in several ways: just audio(on a tape recorder or smart phone), or audio plus video(also on a smart phone or with a video camera), or you can have a second person with you who writes it all down in abbreviations---as long as she/he gets the exact words.

When you have gotten stories from the nurses about important events, you can add to the information and the photos by going to the library and looking up old newspaper accounts, usually in local newspapers that are often available on microfilm. (If you are very lucky, the local newspaper might have archives at the newspaper office where you can find stories and photos. The info is the same as what you get on microfilm, but it is usually much easier to read).

Roslyn Feldberg
Amanda Wallas
Chris Mellor
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