Executive Committee

Meeting of the Executive Committee, Paris, 21-23 May 1947

Several women participated in the meeting:

Madame Domanska: (Polish Red Cross)

Madame Zabolotzskaya (Alliance of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of the U.S.S.R.)

Miss S. J.  Warner (British Red Cross)

Lady Owen (Australian Red Cross)

On point 10 of the agenda:

“The Board of Governors agrees that the fundamental principles of the institution of the Red Cross and Red Crescent up to the present time have been the following:

“The impartiality, the political, religious and economical independence, the universality of the Red Cross and the equality of the National Red Cross Societies.”

“To these the Board of Governors decides that the following principles shall be added:

6. That, if, despite all efforts to the contrary, war should break out, a Red Cross Society must direct all its efforts to lessening the distress caused by the war to improving the condition of the sick, wounded and prisoners of war; to protecting the civilian population, particularly women and children, from the horrors of war and to giving them moral and material help; this work to be carried out either independently or in co-operation with the services of the Armed Forces and with the Government’s Civil Defence Services.


Two small texts are difficult to place in context: they both appear on p 17 of the document – but p 16 is missing from the copy available.

“5 A Red Cross Society should encourage and promote the Junior Red Cross movement amongst boys and girls. The aims of this movement are to teach the importance of service to others , the formation of healthy habits of living, the development of a sense of social responsibility and the strengthening of the great bond of international friendship existing between Junior Red Cross Sections of National Red Cross Societies all over the world.”

“6″ In preparation of nursing and first aid services a National Red Cross Society should train nurses and other personnel to render medical and other forms of supplementary assistance to the public both during war and during peace”

From the SG’s report:

“The Secretary General mentioned that he had been absent from the Secretariat of the League during three months in order to attend the Caracas Conference in Venezuela… The Conference was divided into five Commissions:

  • Organisations and Public Relations
  • Junior Red Cross
  • Health and First Aid
  • Nursing
  • Disaster Relief …”

“Regarding the Secretariat’s work in the field of Nursing, assistance to sick nurses who were victims of the war had been continued. Nurses from Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland had been received in Switzerland, with the co-operation of the Swiss Red Cross. The Secretariat was desirous of continuing this work; it recently had received a very generous gift from the Canadian Red Cross amounting to 10,000 dollars. A gift of 600 dollars had been received from the International Council of Nurses.

The Secretariat had been able to contribute to the re-organisation of nursing services in Austria. The U.N.R.R.A., mission had completed its work and had asked for the League’s collaboration. The League made an offer to the Austrian Red Cross to continue the work undertaken by the U.N.R.R.A.; it drew up a programme for the work and suggested that it would finance the execution of the plan, with the co-operation of the American Red Cross.

Finally, Miss Hentsch, Director of the Nursing and Social Service Bureau, was present at the meetings of the Managing Committee of the International Florence Nightingale Foundation, which was being re-organised. Further, the Secretary General informed the Committee that the Netherlands Red Cross, at its own expense had been kind enough to send to the Secretariat of the League, an assistant for the Nursing Bureau. He desired to express his sincere appreciation to the Netherlands Red Cross”.

Executive Committee

Meeting of the Executive Committee, Paris, 27 April 1934

Who attended the meeting is not noted in the document available.


The Executive Committee notes with satisfaction that the Florence Nightingale International Foundation will be inaugurated in London in July 1934, and that the League will be represented on the Governing Body of the Foundation by Dr. A. Masarykova, President of the Czechoslovak Red Cross, the Marchesa di Targiani Giunti of the Italian Red Cross, Mlle Odier of the International Red Cross Committee, Mr. Ernest J. Swift , Secretary General of the League, and Mrs. Carter, Chief of the Nursing Division. The Secretary General is authorized to assure the Foundation that cordial support will be given by the League for the purposes for which it stands. The Secretary General is also authorized to take such steps as may appear advisable, when the Foundation has been duly constituted, to hand over to it the assets hither-to held by the League in connexion with the International Nursing Courses in London. The Executive Committee expresses its deep gratitude to the Council of Bedford College, to the House Committee of Manchester Square, to the Council of the College of Nursing, and to the British Red Cross Society, for the very helpful co-operation given to the League during the thirteen years of its responsibility for the International Nursing Courses in London”.

Executive Committee

Meeting of the Executive Committee, Paris, 4 April 1930

Apparently, no women were formally present in the meetings as such.

“Mrs. W.K. Draper, Chairman of the New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, who was passing through Paris and had been good enough to honour the Committee with her attendance at this meeting”.

During a discussion on the subject of League Secretariat involvement in the organization of Red Cross committees in British Colonies, it was proposed that Mrs. Carter, a member of the Secretariat and of British nationality might be a possible representative, along with two gentlemen, at the forthcoming British Empire Red Cross Conference to be held in London.

“The CHAIRMAN introduced Point f): Nursing Division, and called-upon Sir Edward Stewart.

Sir Edward STEWART: The usual quarterly reports of the activities of the Nursing Division have been circulated to all members of the Executive Committee. In addition to this, a memorandum has been circulated to the members, in which it is stated that the recommendations passed at the meeting of the Advisors on Nursing held last October have been circulated to the national Red Cross Societies.  Copies of the replies have been attached to the memorandum for the information of the members of the Executive Committee.

On studying this carefully, it will be seen that in general the recommendations have been approved by the national Red Cross Societies and also by the International Red Cross Committee, with the exception of Recommendation IV to which the Hungarian Red Cross has raised an objection. This recommendation lays down the policy to be adopted by the League when called upon to advise with regard to the organization of Schools of Nursing in countries where the number is insufficient, and in addition to recommending Red Cross Societies to establish Schools of Nursing of the highest type, it recommends that “the League encourage Red Cross Societies to contribute still further to the development of nursing by stimulating their Governments and private agencies to undertake the establishment of schools and by collaborating sympathetically with them”

The Hungarian Red Cross (full text of the letter has been circulated to the members of the Executive Committee) is averse to the principle of encouraging the Government to undertake the establishment of training schools for nurses but wishes the training of nurses to be concentrated in the hands of the Red Cross, the latter to receive subvention from the Government for this purpose.

It is proposed that this question be placed on the agenda of the XIVth International Red Cross Conference and that the Hungarian Red Cross be asked to present a report on it for discussion by the Nursing Commission.

Certain other suggestions and minor comments have been made by other Red Cross Societies but these do not in any way alter the principle laid down in the recommendations.

The recommendation made by the Advisors on Nursing that the three Recommendations No. V, No. VII and No. VIII be submitted to the XIVth International Red Cross Conference was approved by the Executive Committee at its last meeting. As these deal with three important and distinct questions, it is proposed. that they appear on the agenda of the XIVth International Red Cross Conference under the following headings:

  1. Enrolment of the trained nurse and training and enrolment of the voluntary aids. (Report submitted by the League of Red Cross Societies – Recommendation No. V).
  • Nursing education (Report of Education Committee, International Council of Nurses – Recommendation No, VII).
  • The training of an auxiliary public health nursing personnel (Recommendation No. VIII).

Item No.5 (k) on the agenda of the Executive Committee refers to the policy to be adopted by the League when collaborating with Red Cross Societies in the development of their schools of nursing, especially with reference to the sending of foreign teaching personnel for this purpose. This question was very fully discussed by the advisors on Nursing at their meeting in October 1929 and Recommendation No. IV was passed; paragraph 6 referring especially to the question reads as follows:

“The Advisory Committee approves, as being of fundamental importance, the League’s policy of encouraging these countries to send educated women to foreign schools for full training, or for post-graduate work for the purpose of preparing themselves to build up schools of nursing and to develop nursing activities in their own countries. The Advisory Committee further believes that simultaneously with this process of educating women for leadership in nursing, these countries may find it helpful to start their schools through the assistance of nurse leaders borrowed temporarily from other countries. It is believed, however, that better results will be obtained if these nurses are of the same ethical group as those of the country which seeks their assistance”.

It is proposed that the League; adopt the policy laid down in this recommendation, it being left to its discretion to make use of foreign personnel if it is considered to be in the interest of the country in question.

Sir Edward STEWART summarized the three points which he wished to embody in his proposal:

  1. that the question of schools of nursing be placed on the agenda of the XIVth International Red Cross conference and that the Hungarian Red Cross be invited to present its report;
  • that Recommendations V, VII and VIII made by the Advisors of the Nursing Division be laid before the XIVth Conference;
  • that the League adopt the principles laid down in recommendation IV, it being left to its discretion to decide as to the advisability of seeking the collaboration of foreign personnel if it is considered to be in the interest of the country concerned.

The CHAIRMAN asked whether there were any further questions.

The SECRETARY GENERAL thought that in the light of the proposals made by Sir Edward Stewart the national Red Cross Societies would have an opportunity at Brussels of discussing questions relating to nursing considered in conjunction with the activities of the Red Cross. It was therefore appropriate that the League should lay before the International Conference questions of a nature to interest all the national Societies.

As regards the second proposal, the Secretary General agreed that it fully represented the intention of the Secretariat. The question raised by the Hungarian Red Cross could not in fact be settled in the same way for every country. In some countries, the Red Cross had never intervened in the education of nurses but, once the latter had obtained their diploma, had confined itself to registering them as potential Red Cross workers. This system had been applied by the American and British Red Cross Societies and, in a certain measure, in other countries also. There were, however, a certain number of cases in which the credit for having introduced a system of nursing education was, from the very outset, due to the Red Cross. In Japan, for example, the Red Cross was initiator of the nursing profession. The same applied in some of the Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece, where the Red Cross had organized courses at which the first trained nurses in these countries had received their tuition.

The proposal made by the Hungarian Red Cross was not therefore a measure that should be generalized but one that should be taken into consideration in each country individually. It would, in consequence be well if the XIVth Conference, at which the national Red Cross Societies will be represented, were given an opportunity of outlining Red Cross policy in this respect.

The third proposal put forward by Sir Edward Stewart was in conformity with the recommendation made by the Advisors who examined this question in October last, and the procedure to be followed should, no doubt be dictated by that recommendation”.

“b) Pan-American Bureau.

M. Conill was invited to speak.

M. CONILL wished to present a few observations regarding the collaboration of the League Secretariat in the development of the Red Cross in Latin America. This collaboration with the Societies of the South American States was one of the most glorious phases in the history of the League. Before the foundation of the League, the countries of Latin America having a Red Cross Society could be counted on the fingers, whereas to-day practically everyone of these countries had formed a national Society. Honduras, Nicaragua and San Domingo alone had not yet become members of the League. This was an admirable achievement of the Pan-American Bureau. With a view to furthering the development of the Red Cross in Latin America, M. Conill suggested that the Secretariat assist in the establishment and development of national Societies and that it collaborate with Societies already in existence in order to extend their activities under the three following heads: training of nurses, Junior Red Cross and health propaganda.

As regards the question of the training of nurses, the Latin American countries had not yet established any schools of nursing and could not therefore avail themselves of the Bedford College courses; their students held no diploma and were consequently ineligible for the advanced courses. The Executive Committee would do well to instruct the Secretariat to continue its collaboration with a view to the establishment of schools of nursing in Latin America; this, M. Conill added, was an important point.

Health propaganda could be developed if the Executive Committee authorized the preparation and printing of documents in Spanish and Portuguese. He pointed out that it was a unique circumstance that there should be twenty nations speaking the same language, and which in consequence could receive documents in Spanish alone. The “Information Bulletin” should be continued and published in Portuguese and Spanish.

Furthermore, in view of the vast expanse of some of the Latin American States, where the local Committees were almost completely isolated from their Central Committee and were practically autonomous, in order to ensure closer collaboration it might be advisable to consider the periodical convocation of national Conferences. M. Conill proposed that the Executive Committee authorize a representative of the Pan- American Bureau to visit Latin America, should such a visit be considered necessary from the point of view of increasing the number of, and of co-operating in the organization of these Conferences.

M. Conill summed up his three proposals and asked whether they were approved.

The CHAIRMAN asked whether there were any further observations.

The SECRETARY GENERAL thanked M. Conill for his suggestions and stressed the importance which the Secretariat had always attached to the development of the Red Cross in Latin America. He was at the disposal of the national Societies to examine with them any activity they might wish to undertake. If the proposals made by M. Conill met with the approval of The Executive Committee, the Secretariat would, in so far as its budget permitted, make a study of the steps to be taken with a view to furthering the development of Latin American Red Cross Societies.

M. CONILL asked whether he should make a formal proposal or whether it would suffice to place the Committee’s approval on record.

The CHAIRMAN asked M. Conill to summarize his proposal.

M. CONILL proposed the following resolution:

The Committee approves the work already undertaken in Latin America and recommends that this work be continued, in so far as the budget of the League would permit, more particularly in connexion with the training of nurses, the Juior Red Cross and health propaganda”

The CHAIRMAN was sure that all the members of the Committee were in agreement as to the policy to be followed in Latin America and, if there were no objections, M. Conill’s proposal would be regarded as adopted”.


The International Red Cross Committee and the League of Red Cross Societies have agreed to propose that the following questions be placed on the agenda of the XIVth International ed Cross Conference:

XXIV. Action taken in respect of Resolution XIII of the Xlllth International Red Cross Conference concerning the nursing activities of the Red Cross:

a) enrolment of trained nurses; training and enrolment of voluntary aids (Recommendation VI);

b) professional training of nurses (Recommendation VII):

i) Fundamental principles to be observed in the establishment of schools of nursing (Recommendation VII);

ii) Red Cross role in the training of nurses (Hungarian Red Cross).

c) training of auxiliary public health nurses

… ”.

“c) Conditions to be laid down in order that the League may obtain the active collaboration of the counsellors nominated by the different national Societies”.

The SECRETARY GENERAL stated that the national Societies had already nominated 150 technical experts on different questions. Some of the Societies had, however, informed the League that they were unable to nominate authorities in advance for the purpose of advising the Secretariat on different subjects. The Secretariat would therefore simply ask the national Red Cross Societies to find the qualified experts in each case and to forward the necessary information. The experts already appointed included:

24 experts for question relating to Nursing

87    “        “         “           “       “ Health

11    “        “         “           “       “ Infant Welfare

17    “        “         “           “       “ Junior Red Cross

 9     “        “         “           “       “ Relief

16    “        “         “           “       “ General Organization

M, CONILL wished to know what procedure had hitherto been adopted when the Secretariat desired to consult the experts. The SECRETARY GENERAL replied that, at its last meeting, he asked the Executive Committee for authority to convene a special meeting for the purpose of studying nursing questions and, as a result of this authority, a special meeting of Advisors on Nursing was held in October, when the programme to be discussed at the Brussels Conference was established.

General Council

Meeting of the General Council, Paris, 1924


Hygiene in the Schools.

While the function of the Junior Red Cross in the health field is primarily to interest children in the care of their own health and that of others, it is desirable that Red Cross Societies should, in connexion with their Junior activities, encourage the adoption, where necessary, of medical inspection of schools and the provision of school nurses and collaborate with them in the introduction of standard methods of weighing and measuring children”.



The General Council recommends that National Societies take part in the campaign against tuberculosis:

1. By the training of nurses and especially of public health nurses.

2. By co-operation, in cases where the Red Cross undertakes such practical work, in the establishment in each district of dispensaries, paying special attention to the protection of children and, as regards infants, taking part in the organization of babies’ centres.

The General Council expresses the wish that each National Society shall establish within its organization a technical medical bureau whose function it shall be to co-ordinate and direct the various medical and public health activities of the Red Cross.

The General Council particularly calls the attention of National Societies to the fact that it is thus possible to increase the effectiveness of voluntary organizations and at the same time to reduce their working expenses”.


Venereal Diseases.

The General Council, considering the usefulness of an ever-increasing co-ordination of all efforts in connexion with moral and prophylactic propaganda and the favourable opinions expressed by the Warsaw Conference (April 1923) and the Buenos Aires Conference (December 1923) recommends:

1o That the National Red Cross Societies should collabo- rate in the combating of venereal diseases, either by their direct action in their own country, or through the medium of the “Union Internationale contre le Peril Vénérien”.

2o That a scientific knowledge of the prevention and treatment of venereal diseases should be included in the programme of courses for Hospital and Public Health Nurses



The General Council recommends National Societies to consider Cancer as a social scourge on the same plane as Tuberculosis and Venereal Diseases, and to take part in the campaign against Cancer in the following way:

a) To organize propaganda in such a way as to draw the attention of the public to the necessity for early treatment, as well as to the existing centres for early diagnosis and treatment.

b) To insist on the social importance of including the subject of Cancer in the course of instruction for visiting nurses.

c) To participate, as far as possible, in the hospitalization of cancer patients, in view of the fact that, in many countries, treatment centres cannot give the full measure of their service, owing to lack of beds”



Recognizing the educational and economic value of the trained nurse to the nation’s welfare and the need for adequate nursing facilities in time of war, disaster and epidemic, the General Council, realizing that one of the purposes of the National Red Cross Societies is “the improvement of health, the prevention of disease and the mitigation of suffering”, pleads that National Red Cross Societies devote themselves to the development and advancement of nursing resources in their several countries, and recommends:

1. That the promotion and development of public health nursing should form a vital part of the programme of National Red Cross Societies in countries in which National Red Cross Societies are engaged in health activities and in countries in which the Government public and private organizations look to the Society for assistance in their health work.

2. That National Red Cross Societies should endeavour earnestly, in their respective countries, to promote in the minds of the public the national importance of the nurse; to work for the advancement of nursing education; to encourage educated women to enter schools of nursing and to improve the social and economic status of the nurse.

3. That National Red Cross Societies should endeavour to stimulate the development of schools of nursing of the highest order in their respective countries as much as possible in accordance with a plan and curriculum subsequently to be drawn up by the Nursing Advisory Board of the League, providing that institutions of this character do not already exist.

4. That National Red Cross Societies should recognize the value of nursing organizations and should work with them to promote their ideals for the best interest of the countries’ welfare.

5. That National Red Cross Societies should enroll, in a nursing reserve, all qualified nurses in the country who would be in a position to respond to the call of their country in time of war, disaster or epidemic.

6. That while recommending to the National Red Cross Societies the standardization of nurses to be enrolled or trained by the Red Cross Society in the future, we also gratefully recognize the valuable services rendered to their countries, in the past, by those nurses who have received less training, and recommend that they still hold the privilege and title of “Red Cross Nurse“, but that from now onwards all new groups trained by Red Cross Societies in short courses for emergency purposes should be designated “Voluntary Aid Detachments” or by a similar term and should serve under the enrolled Red Cross nurses.

7. In order that the Government and the public of each country may be assured that the National Red Cross Society will provide adequate and efficient nursing service, when called upon, and in order to facilitate international co-operation during war or disaster, that National Red Cross Societies should, hereafter, designate as Red Cross nurses, only those who have graduated from schools of nursing (schools accepting women of higher education) and giving not less than two years of consecutive and full time training, the ideal being a 3 years’ course in connexion with a hospital or hospitals providing medical, surgical and special services.

8. That National Red Cross Societies should appoint an Advisory Nursing Committee consisting of representative nurses and representatives of the medical profession, the health, educational and hospital authorities and others with a knowledge of nursing, to study the need for nursing service, to determine the nursing activities to be undertaken by the National Red Cross Society and to guide its development.

9. That during the ensuing two years the League should continue the International Course in Public Health Nursing and should develop an International Course for the Training of Nurse Administrators and Teachers of Schools of Nurses.

10. That the Nursing Division of the League should be put in a position to advise and assist National Red Cross Societies in the development of their nursing activities”.

Board of Governors

Meeting of the Board of Governors, Paris, 1945

No mention of women, or of issues of more importance to them than to other groups.

Briefly, in the balance sheet, a nursing text-book is included; similarly, “Irakian Nurses”.

Board of Governors

Meeting of the Board of Governors, Paris, 1936


Nursing Scholarships.

The Board of Governors authorizes the Secretariat to continue and develop, so far as the means at -its disposal allow, the policy of facilitating the training of Red Cross nurses, including post-graduate training and training for specialized work, by making grants to national Societies for scholarships, for study abroad, and for similar purposes”.


Conference of Experts.

The Board of Governors notes with satisfaction the arrangements made by the League, jointly with the International Red Cross Committee, for holding in January 1937 the conference of experts contemplated by Resolution XVI of the XVth International Red Cross Conference, and expresses the hope that all Societies, which can conveniently do so, will delegate nurses and others qualified by their functions to participate”.


Nursing Advisory Board.

The Board of Governors approves the holding in January of a meeting of the Nursing Advisory Committee; notes with satisfaction that membership of this Committee has been maintained in accordance with its recommendation, approved by the Board of Governors in 1928 ; instructs the Secretary General to lay before the Executive Committee a report of the said meeting; and expresses the view that in principle such meetings should be held at least once every two years”.


Florence Nightingale International Foundation.

The Board of Governors notes with satisfaction the progress made by the Florence Nightingale International Foundation, approves the continued cooperation of the League with this Foundation, and authorizes the Chairman to nominate in due course the representatives of the League on the Grand Council of the Foundation. The Board is gratified to learn that national Florence Nightingale Memorial Committees are now working in 21 countries, with the active cooperation of the national Red Cross Societies. The representatives of the League on the Grand Council are authorized to support such changes in the educational policy of the Foundation as may be recognized to be necessary, provided always that the special needs of Red Cross Societies for educational facilities for their nurses should be kept in mind, and that the facilities provided shall be of the highest professional standard compatible therewith, and of the necessary broadly educational character”.


Air Ambulance Services.

The Board of Governors,

Approving the collaboration established between the League of Red Cross Societies and the International Air Federation through the International Committee for the Study of Air Ambulances,

Expresses its thanks to the Chairman and the Members of the International Air Federation for their valuable co-operation,

Approves the general regulations for the institution of a certificate for nurses for air ambulance service, Recommends that the International Study Committee continue its work with a view to formulating plans for agreements between national Red Cross Societies and aero clubs, members of the Air Federation, such agreements to define the services which the two bodies can mutually render so as to accomplish systematically and speedily the humanitarian work in which aeroplanes can usefully participate”.

Board of Governors

Meeting of the Board of Governors, Paris, 1935

In the document available is contained four resolutions, none of which mention a woman – not even in the guise of nurses.

Board of Governors

Meeting of the Board of Governors, Paris, 1922

The meeting took place with one woman present, Lady Cook, representing the Viscountess Novar, of the Australian Red Cross.

Under “9. Junior Red Cross”:

“Lady Cook said that no difficulty had been experienced in organising the Junior Red Cross in Australia: 30.000 children belonged to the organisation, and there were also 7.000 V.A.Ds. The latter arc now recruited among children who have passed the junior” stage; this step was initiated to fill the gap between the junior and senior sections and avoid losing touch with members. The Motto of the Australian Junior Red Cross is “For Me” (abbreviated from “FOR ME the soldier fought” “FOR ME he died, etc.”) The children take up the work heartily, and there is great rivalry at Christmas time as to who will make up the best parcels for soldiers.

Hundreds of garments are made by the children for dependants of soldiers, and every year in May a big exhibition is held.

While girls make up garments, the boys attend to philanthropic work such as clearing of land for soldiers: during the first week of holidays, hundreds of boys are employed in helping soldiers to paint their houses, put up fa few houses, etc. etc.

All this tends to make them good citizens.

Lady Cook said she had no hesitation in stating that if everything was left to the children themselves, the movement would grow to be a big world wide movement, which was most desirable seeing that the future depends so much on “juniors”.

“10. International Public Health Nursing Course.

The Director General referred to the arrangements concluded for the next International Course in Public Health Nursing, to be held in London. Sir Claude Hill stated that the League owed profound debt of gratitude to Sir Arthur Stanley for having arranged the ceremony at the completion of last year’s Nursing Course, and proposed that a vote of thanks be passed to Sir Arthur Stanley and to the British Red Cross. This was unanimously carried”.

Sir Arthur Stanley expressed his thanks to the Board and to Sir Claude Hill, and said that the nursing students from all parts of the world had produced a most excellent impression in London: they were all very anxious to learn and took a keen interest in everything relating to their future profession. Sir Arthur added that he personally was of opinion that the nursing activities of the League were among the most important work undertaken by the League, and that there was no doubt but that the most effective means of preventing suffering was to spread throughout the world real knowledge of the importance of sound nursing”.