Ghana: Health and Nursing

C.H.N. Training School bus (Akim-Oda) with banners, elephant masks etc. Health Week? Y3043TT/269

In her third post highlighting pictorial records of Ghana in the Library’s Royal Commonwealth Society’s collections, RCS volunteer Francesca Issatt focusses on the Weston collection of nursing in West Africa during the 1950s and 1960s.  This large collection (930 images) contains photographs, negatives and watercolours collected or taken by Elsie May Weston or Gladys M. Pierce Simmonds, both working as nurses in Nigeria and Ghana at the time.

Many of the photographs have been annotated suggesting that they had been used for educational purposes, and their content reflects educational intentions.  They record community events promoting health and safety.

One photograph shows the Community Health Nurses’ Training School of Akim-Oda’s van with model elephant heads displayed next to it. The elephant heads were worn by nurses during tuberculosis awareness events with banners that read “Elephants don’t have Tb.  Why should we?”.

Health education students putting on puppet show. Y3043TT215

The trainee nurses used drama to educate groups and they put on puppet shows to teach the importance of cleanliness and encourage good health practices across the generations.

They found visual displays to be another effective way of communicating important issues to the local communities. Cut-out figures of children were used to combat malnutrition  –  the figures illustrating the consequences of poor diet and the importance of a varied diet.  Other photographs in the collection record stalls displaying information on midwifery and safe child-birth.

Child nutrition stall. Y3043TT/212





A full catalogue of the Weston nursing collection may be viewed on Janus at:

The original photographs may be requested in the Manuscripts Reading Room, Cambridge University Library, classmark: Y3043TT-VV

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