Charlotte Searle 1982

Doctor of Nursing (Honoris Causa)

Charlotte Searle was born in Uitenhage and educated at Riebeek College. She undertook general nurse training at Kimberley Hospital and was registered as a midwife. In 1964, Searle was the first nurse in South Africa to obtain a doctorate for her thesis The History of the Development of Nursing in South Africa, 1652-1960.

She was a founder member of both the South African Nursing Council and the South African Nursing Association, of which she was president for 10 years. She wrote The Definitive History of Nursing in South Africa, and this and her other books have been the standard works for successive generations of nursing students for many years. She was responsible for sending the first Indian woman in South Africa to train as a nurse and in 1947, promoted the first African nurse to the position of sister in a state hospital.  In 1955, she was responsible for the introduction of the first basic nursing degree courses in Africa. She became the first Professor of Nursing in South Africa in 1967 at the University of Pretoria. She was an Emeritus Professor of that university until her death.

The Charlotte Searle Museum is accommodated within the Department of Advanced Nursing Sciences at the University of South Africa. This museum portrays the development of the history of nursing in South Africa and was opened by Professor Searle on the 17th of June 1991 on the occasion of her 80th birthday. Sadly on the 21st of October in 2001, Professor Searle, doyenne of the South African nursing profession, passed away at the age of 91.

Searle received an honorary doctorate from the former University of Port Elizabeth in 1982, for being actively associated with the planned reorganization of the South African Nursing Association, giving many hours of her time, over and above the call of duty, and for her wisdom and guidance in order that the Association may more readily reach out to and serve all its members.