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The Miss Margaret Robins Archives

Memories of the WCH School of NursingVirtual Museum of Canada

Come experience life in as a student nurse at the Women's College Hospital School of Nursing. Listen to students talks about their first day on the wards. See the evolution of student nurses' uniforms over the school's sixty year history. Be a part of Miss Sarah Jane Glenn's graduation ceremony in the backyard of the hospital in 1917.

Thanks to the support of the Virtual Museum of Canada's Community Memories Investment Program, The Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women's College Hospital is proud to present Memories of the Women’s College Hospital's School of Nursing.

Miss Margaret Robins
first came to Women's College Hospital as a nursing student in 1944. After graduating from its school of nursing in 1947, she began working in the hospital as a nurse in the obstetrical department. Miss Robins continued her career at Women's College as a clinical instructor and teacher in obstetrics, then as a clinical researcher for the department of anesthesia and finally as the director of the medical library in 1967. It was here that Miss Robins began to take an interest in the historical records and art collection of Women's College Hospital. The medical library was the first repository for the hospital's archival documents.

Miss Robins' interest in the history of the hospital changed into a passion for actively acquiring, maintaining and preserving its historical records, artifacts, furniture and art. Upon retiring from the medical library in 1992, she was named archivist emeritus and established the archives of Women's College Hospital. Although Miss Robins no longer is involved with the day-to-day operations of the archives, she is currently an active member of the executive committee of the Alumnae Association of the school of nursing. She holds the position of alumnae association historian.

Named in her honour, the Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women's College Hospital showcases the historical records of Women's College that Miss Robins has painstakingly acquired and preserved over her career. The archives and its unique collection is a wonderful tribute to its founder and greatest supporter.  The archives' collection documents the rich history of Women's College Hospital that began in 1883 with the founding of Woman's Medical College. The collection also consists of archival material related to the history of women in medicine, the history of nursing, early hospitals in Canada and - most recently - to the history of health-care restructuring in Ontario.  Artifacts include:

  • Samples of furniture and medical equipment dating from 1911 to the present
  • A collection of nurses' uniforms that trace the profession's history
  • The personal library of the late Dr. Marion Powell, whose books line the shelves of one wall in the archives
  • Records of the board of directors and hospital administration
  • A photograph collection
  • Records of the Women's College Hospital School of Nursing and the Nursing Alumnae Association
  • Hospital memorabilia and public relations material
  • An official portrait collection and other works of art
  • Nurses' uniforms and pins
  • Academic papers of Dr. Powell and Dr. Jessie Gray
  • Samples of the original furnishings and fixtures dating from the opening of Women's College Hospital at 76 Grenville Street in 1936.

Archival Services

The Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women's College Hospital offers a variety of services to staff, students, academic researchers and interested members of the public.

Access to Records: The archives is open weekdays to staff and external researchers. With the assistance of the archivist, researchers are permitted to consult archival materials in accordance with the archives' rules and conditions of access. Please note: None of the materials housed in the archives may leave the premises.

Reference Services The archivist is available to answer your requests by phone, email, in person or by regular mail. If you require the archivist to conduct extensive research on your behalf, an hourly research charge may apply.

Reprographic Services: The archives provides fee-based, in-house reprographic services. Please contact the archivist for a fee schedule.

  • Photocopying
  • Reproduction of photographs
  • Scanning of document 

Retirements, Celebrations and Displays: The archivist can help staff identify archival material that can be used for retirements, celebrations, anniversaries and displays. Additional charges may apply for reprographic services.

Donate to the Archives

The Miss Margaret Robins Archives of Women's College Hospital actively acquires records and artifacts of enduring historical value that best document the operations of Women's College Hospital. We are pleased to consider donations of the following items:
  • Photographs
  • Professional and academic papers
  • Newsletters and other WCH publications
  • Hospital memorabilia
  • Minutes of hospital committee meetings
  • Scrapbooks
  • Nursing caps, uniforms and pins
  • Medical artifacts
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Location & Contact Info

Miss Margaret Robins Archives
Women's College Hospital
76 Grenville Street
Toronto, ON M5S 1B2

Phone: 416-323-6400 ext. 4076

Fax: 416-323-6122

e-mail: wch.archives@wchospital.ca

Hours of Service
By appointment only

The hospital is fully accessible. All clinics have wheelchair accessible washrooms.

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  • Fully affiliated with:
  • University of Toronto
  • A member of:
  • Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)