Class, gender and professional expertise
British military nursing in the Crimean War
in One hundred years of wartime nursing practices, 1854–1953
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In the Crimean War four different combatants, Britain, France, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire fought Russia on two continents in many locations but, because it is so well documented, this chapter deals with British nursing on the Black Sea littoral. It explores the importance of nursing knowledge in the mid-nineteenth century context of a different understanding of disease and a different construction of women's role in a society that was becoming increasingly defined by social class. Moral disorder or 'lack of order and regularity', as the Victorians sometimes put it, was not limited to these peripheral institutions but permeated society as a whole. The new medicine required reliable, clinically experienced nurses who could take responsibility for critically ill patients and carry out medical orders intelligently and with good judgement. Patient care was based on a different understanding of disease and its causation.

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