Journal of Professional Nursing

Understanding and evaluating historical sources in nursing history research

Pamela J Wood, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Monash University, Australia

Reference:  Wood, P. J. (2011). Understanding and evaluating historical sources in nursing history research. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(1), 25-33.


All nurse researchers need to address, in the manner most appropriate to their research methodology, issues of quality related to their research material. This concern is not about the care needed in generating data, rather it relates to understanding and evaluating material that already exists. This article describes four historical sources relevant to the history of nursing in New Zealand and uses them to explain how nurse researchers can evaluate their research material. The dimensions of this evaluation are the provenance, purpose, context, veracity and usefulness of the historical sources. The article explains the questions that need to be addressed in each dimension of the evaluation. The different kinds of information available in the four historical sources are illustrated by references to individual nurses.

History of nursing, historical research, research methodology, nurse researchers

Subscribe for full access to Nursing Praxis