Nurse Nan And Her Wardrobe

After a suitable interlude, I have resumed my memorabilia winnowing. A few months ago I sorted through and discarded about nine boxes of miscellaneous documents. Most recently, I abandoned an attempt to sort out “The Box” and my eldest son relieved me of it in its entirety.

You might have thought this would have cured me of my need to throw things out, but no. I’m still reducing my hoard of sentimental bric-à-brac. I am now down to the last four boxes; a box of file folders I can’t quite bring myself to read, a box of photo negatives (negatives! Remember those?), a box of teddy bears, and Nurse Nan.

The teddy bears have been lovingly washed and now await drying out and a determination about their fate. The lion was a gift at K’s birth, one of the little white bears was a gift at J’s birth, and the rest were acquired within a year or so of my children’s entrance into the world.

I also carefully laundered, on the “silk” setting, Nurse Nan’s clothes. She has her original uniform, a replica uniform made by one of my sisters, and several knitted outfits that I think were made by my mother, but I could be wrong about that.

This doll has survived a lot. She was my doll when I was a child and so she dates from the 1950s. She is a hard plastic 19″ Pedigree brand doll that was sold in England. I haven’t seen her in any online images from Canada or the US, so she may be one of the few that have emigrated.

I had left her in my parents’ home when I moved out, and she was subsequently enjoyed by several of my nieces and nephews. Somehow, miraculously, she survived all that. Later, one of my sisters gathered up Nurse Nan and her wardrobe, created a replica uniform for her, and sent all of that to me in Canada. Yes, my sister is a sweetheart. All my sisters are sweethearts!

At one point Nurse Nan suffered a back injury which I had healed at a dolls’ hospital in Calgary. I doubt if that place still exists, but I am charmed by just the memory of it. It amazes me that we used to have people with such expertise and places called dolls’ hospitals.

Because of all those memories, I still have Nurse Nan. The problem is, I really don’t need to keep her in a box in a storage space any more. As lovely as she is, and as fond as I am of the memories she gave me, the thought of continuing to keep her around makes me groan, and today I decided she has to go.

She is not for sale, so I can’t put her on eBay or Kijiji, and I don’t know anyone who wants her, so I am left with the choice of either putting her in the trash, taking her to a thrift store, or finding a home for her. It’s a bit like trying to find a home for an old dog or a chipped tea set.

Here she is, in all her glory, with some lovingly-made clothes and a couple of doll cot blankets. If you know anyone who might value her, please tell them where they can find her. Otherwise, I will probably take her to the thrift store with a note explaining why she is a bit special.


Edit to add:

I am happy to report that Nurse Nan now has a new home with a collector of vintage dolls. It is very reassuring for me to know that she will be valued and kept safely.

After I had published this post and linked to Facebook, I learned from family members that she had been repaired in the UK once or twice before being returned to me in Canada. In addition, as I mentioned, she was repaired again after she got here. Because of this, I thought that she might not fare well as a toy for a child, especially since her body is easily broken. That is largely what prompted my decision about her adoption.

Thank you to everyone who offered her a home. I appreciate the kind thoughts and the good wishes for Nurse Nan’s future. I have been amazed at the number of family members who remember her fondly and my heart is warmed by all those who thought of children who would enjoy her. I am glad to have triggered some good memories and maybe a smile or two.

It is very satisfying t to know how many people enjoyed seeing her, and I can rest easy now knowing that my old doll is in good hands.


  1. Any chance there might someday be a grand daughter or grand niece who might love her? I’m sure if you took her to the Antiques Roadshow she would be of some value.

  2. Wow! Nurse Nan being so intact is impressive! I am also impressed with your ability to let her go. You remind me of the resolve of the author “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”. I’m absorbing the information, but not ready to take the action yet.
    Let us know where Nurse Nan’s journey takes her!

  3. The sentimentalist in me immediately appeared when I saw Nurse Nan and the wardrobe that must contain so much love. Memories of my friends and I playing with our dolls came rushing back. Were she mine, I could not dispose of her, but where would I send her? My granddaughters are in their 20’s and would never appreciate the history behind Nurse Nan. Aren’t there doll museums? I apologize for instantly caring so much for a doll, and don’t even get me started on the bears! When Frank and I moved to Brickyard, we disposed of 38 years of accumulated ‘stuff’. I had a method I do not recommend to anyone. I did not open a box, just donated everything to a place that was willing to accept it. 15 years later now and I have not missed anything…yet. I do recall one moving company estimator coming to our home and assessing the cost to move us. He had seen the interior and now it was garage time. He looked and said in a most amazed voice, “where is your stuff?” Haha. Neither Frank nor I were collectors! I do admire you Anne!

    1. That is a great story, Mary Beth! I hope to get my garage as free of “stuff” as possible! I have a couple of good possibilities for a new home for Nurse Nan and I will let you know how it works out.

        1. Anne, I am thrilled about Nurse Nan’s outcome! Wonderful! Thank you so much for updating us. The interest and caring is palpable…Love it!

  4. Thank you Anne. I will await news of Nurse Nan’s newest adventures.

    My daughter bought me a stuffy after Frank died. It is a rainbow colored (sky blue pink!) unicorn with ears and a tail and a small horn. It is so very soft and stuffed to make it quite squeezable. I sleep with ‘Promise’ each and every night. Possibly silly to do but amazingly this provides much comfort. When I was around 4 or 5, I would put all my dolls to ‘bed’ at night before I got in my bed and then I slept with my favorite teddy bear. Those actions seem to have returned to me now at 77 years of age. Hey, don’t knock it. It soothes me. (smiles)

  5. I never even thought of you criticizing what I wrote about. I am simply struck by the fact that I am again sleeping with a stuffed critter as I did in childhood. When I first saw the unicorn, I wondered what the heck I would do with it. Well, that certainly quickly resolved! LOL
    Have a great week.

  6. I love the story and impressed that you still have her…SO tempted to raise my hand for this family heirloom…but alas, I am doing the same as you and I need to part ways with “stuff” not add to. So glad to see the pictures and hoping one of my young cousins will be a taker.

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