In recent years the study of nursing history in Britain has been transformed by the application of concepts and methods from the social sciences to original sources. The myths and legends which have grown up through a century of anecdotal writing have been chipped away to reveal the complex story of an occupation shaped and reshaped by social and technological change. Most of the work has been scattered in monographs, journals and edited collections. The skills of a social historian, a sociologist and a graduate nurse have been brought together to rethink the history of modern nursing in the light of the latest scholarship. The account starts by looking at the type of nursing care available in 1800. This was usually provided by the sick person's family or household servants. It traces the interdependent growth of general nursing and the modern hospital and examines the separate origins and eventual integration of mental nursing, district nursing, health visiting and midwifery. It concludes with reflections on the prospects for nursing in the year 2000.