You matter to the last moment of your life: cataloguing the papers of modern hospice pioneer Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-2005)


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Welcome to the official project blog for the cataloguing of the papers of Dame Cicely Saunders in the King’s College London Archives. The intention of this blog is to provide regular updates on the progress of the project and also highlight some of the items in the collection to provide a guide and contextual background to her astonishing life and career.

In January 2015, King’s College London Archives began cataloguing the personal papers of Dame Cicely Saunders, generously supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources award. The project aims to preserve and facilitate scholarly access to the remarkable collection of Dame Cicely Saunders, who throughout a long and distinguished career as nurse, clinician and practical care-giver, helped shape modern perceptions of palliative treatment, the expectation that the chronically ill be relieved of pain, and individual dignity be preserved in the face of death.

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The collection consists of the equivalent of 230 archival boxes, or 23 linear metres of papers, slides, photographs and artefacts. This includes: extensive correspondence (with a wide range of health care professionals, politicians and religious leaders) on subjects including drugs, pain control, palliative care, bereavement, grief, nursing and the administration of hospices. The collection also includes patient notes, manuscript talks, teaching notes and papers relating to the establishment of St Christopher’s Hospice.


The main outcome of the project will be a detailed catalogue of Dame Cicely Saunder’s collection on the King’s College London Archive College website, In addition to improving access for for researchers it will also make it easier for sensitive personal data to be identified and for the collection to be preserved in the long term.

The project will run from January to December 2015 and regular updates will be posted here and also on the project’s Twitter page,@CS_Archives along with details of online exhibitions, talks and other events planned for later on in the year.