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- Author: Melanie Oppenheimer x
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This chapter examines the League of Red Cross Societies, founded in 1919, and focuses on one national society, the Australian Red Cross, and how it realigned itself as part of the transition from war to peace in the 1920s. It did this, in part, through the emerging global programme of the Junior Red Cross. To allow children to gather together under the auspices of the Red Cross to foster and extend its work beyond national borders and into the international spaces was led by the League of Red Cross Societies. Emerging national Red Cross societies such as the Australian Red Cross found value and guidance from the Movement’s new federated body, and played a part in ensuring its survival and success.
The League of Red Cross Societies was formed in May 1919 by the national Red Cross societies of the United States, France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. One of its early initiatives was the establishment of an international post-graduate public health nursing programme in association with Bedford College, London. This paper focuses on this innovative public health programme and the early Nursing Directors of the League of Red Cross Societies, Alice Fitzgerald, Katherine Olmsted and Maynard Carter, who fought to establish and consolidate the highly successful programme within the highly precarious environment of the League’s early years. It provides us with an insight into the impact of the League of Red Cross Societies on the Red Cross movement and its role as a nascent supranational organisation facilitating the exchange of knowledge and information that led to the development of nursing and public health programmes extending across Europe, the Americas and Asia. In doing so, the paper reveals the geopolitical tensions, the competing and contested agendas of other organisations including from within the Red Cross movement, and the philosophies and inherent conflicts surrounding nursing training more broadly during the interwar period. Finally, it suggests that without the League of Red Cross Societies, there would have been no international public health nursing courses in the 1920s and 1930s, and that the development of public health more broadly would have looked very different.
This book offers new insights into the history of the Red Cross Movement, the world’s oldest humanitarian body originally founded in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland. Incorporating new research, the book reimagines and re-evaluates the Red Cross as a global institutional network. It is the first book of its kind to focus on the rise of the Red Cross, and analyses the emergence of humanitarianism through a series of turning points, practices and myths. The book explores the three unique elements that make up the Red Cross Movement: the International Committee of the Red Cross; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, formerly known as the League of Red Cross Societies (both based in Geneva); and the 191 national societies. It also coincides with the centenary of the founding of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, formed in May 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War. The book will be invaluable for students, lecturers, humanitarian workers, and those with a general interest in this highly recognizable and respected humanitarian brand. With seventeen chapters by leading scholars and researchers from Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America, the book deserves a place on the bookshelves of historians and international relations scholars interested to learn more about this unique, complex and contested organisation.
This chapter introduces the subject of humanitarianism, outlines the various constituent elements that make up the Red Cross Movement and gives an overview of the current state of scholarship on the subject. It introduces the three themes, and summarises the contributions made to these themes by the chapters brought together in the volume. Finally, it indicates avenues for future research.