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Tommy Dickinson

4 ‘Subversive nurses’ Thinking critically does not mean simple criticism. It means not simply accepting information at face value in a non-critical or non-evaluating way. The essence of critical thinking centres not on answering questions but on questioning answers, so it involves questioning, probing, analyzing  and  evaluating. The most subversive people are those that ask questions.1 Introduction Some nurses in this study appeared to have adopted a ­predominantly subservient, unenquiring and unquestioning relationship with those in authority. While none of

in ‘Curing queers’
Tommy Dickinson

3 ‘Subordinate nurses’ I didn’t really understand what we were doing, none of us nurses did. We knew we were trying to get him to go for women instead of the men, but that was about it. The doctor brought the young man in and told us what we were going to do. I didn’t really think any more about it, just got on with it – it was my job. I thought the doctor knows what he is doing, so it must be in the patient’s best interests. In those days you didn’t really ask questions, and you just did what the doctor told you to do really. When I think about it, we did not

in ‘Curing queers’
Abstract only
Myth and reality
Carol Helmstadter

Introduction: nursing and woman’s mission The religious and secular lady nurses presented Nightingale with very different problems from those of the working-class nurses. With the arrival of Mary Stanley and her forty-seven women in December 1854 secular ladies with no clinical nursing experience were introduced into Nightingale’s nursing corps. As with the hospital nurses and the religious Sisters, the government paid all the volunteer lady nurses’ expenses but the ten ladies in Stanley’s group – eleven if we

in Beyond Nightingale
Gender, nostalgia, and the making of historical heroines
Aeleah Soine

Introduction In the first episode of the German television drama Charité (2017), two young nurses rush a patient through the corridors of the Charité hospital in Berlin alongside staff surgeon, Dr Emil Behring (Matthias Koeberlin). The year is 1888, and Behring has not yet formulated his Nobel Prize-winning diphtheria antitoxin, but even as a humbly trained military surgeon, his ego is

in Diagnosing history
Debbie Palmer

3 The Nurses’ Registration Act, 1919 In 1919, the newly appointed Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Addison, acknowledged that nurses’ ‘conditions of employment were one of the most essential needs of the time’. He admitted that ‘they had been scandalously underpaid and often grossly overworked’.1 Yet Addison refused to allow the discussion of work conditions on to registration’s agenda and prevented nurse organisations seeking linked economic benefits as part of the Registration Bill. While the subject of nurse registration has attracted considerable

in Who cared for the carers?

The First World War was the first ‘total war’. Its industrial weaponry damaged millions of men, and drove whole armies underground into dangerously unhealthy trenches. Many were killed. Others suffered from massive, life-threatening injuries; wound infections such as gas gangrene and tetanus; exposure to extremes of temperature; emotional trauma; and systemic disease. Tens of thousands of women volunteered to serve as nurses to alleviate their suffering. Some were fully-trained professionals; others had minimal preparation, and served as volunteer-nurses. Their motivations were a combination of compassion, patriotism, professional pride and a desire for engagement in the ‘great enterprise’ of war. The war led to an outpouring of war-memoirs, produced mostly by soldier-writers whose works came to be seen as a ‘literary canon’ of war-writing. But nurses had offered immediate and long-term care, life-saving expertise, and comfort to the war’s wounded, and their experiences had given them a perspective on industrial warfare which was unique. Until recently, their contributions, both to the saving of lives and to our understanding of warfare have remained largely hidden from view. ‘Nurse Writers of the Great War’ examines these nurses’ memoirs and explores the insights they offer into the nature of nursing and the impact of warfare. The book combines close biographical research with textual analysis, in order to offer an understanding of both nurses’ wartime experiences and the ways in which their lives and backgrounds contributed to the style and content of their writing.

Carol Helmstadter

Introduction Nightingale faced three central problems in the East: first, she had to win over the many army officers and doctors who resisted the project of female nurses; second, it would be a major effort to keep track of the different British military hospitals in Turkey and Russia; and third, Nightingale had to establish control of the conglomerate group of women who volunteered to be nurses. Some of the working-class nurses were very undisciplined and disorderly, while a few of the lady nurses and one group

in Beyond Nightingale

Using oral, archival and written sources, the book reconstructs the experiences of African women and men working in Zimbabwe’s hospitals in the twentieth century. It demonstrates how African nurses, i.e., nursing assistants, nursing orderlies, medics and State Registered Nurses were the spine of the hospital system and through their work ensured the smooth functioning of hospitals in Zimbabwe. The book argues that African nurses took the opportunity afforded to them by the profession to transform Zimbabwe’s clinical spaces into their own. They were interlocutors between white medical and nursing personnel and African patients and made Africans’ adjustments to hospital settings easier. At the same time, the book moves beyond hospital spaces, interrogating the significance of the nursing profession within African communities, in the process bridging the divide between public and private spaces. The book makes a significant contribution to global nursing historiography by highlighting how Zimbabwean nurses’ experiences within hospitals and beyond clinical spaces speak to the experiences of other nurses within the Southern African region and beyond. Through documenting the stories and histories of African nurses over a period of a century and the various ways in which they struggled and creatively adapted to their subordinate position in hospitals and how they transformed these healing spaces to make them their own, the book suggests that nurses were important historical actors whose encounters and experiences in Zimbabwe’s healing spaces – the hospitals – deserve to be documented.

So what went wrong?
Odette Best

5 Training the ‘natives’ as nurses in Australia: so what went wrong? Odette Best Introduction The story of the Aboriginal women who participated in Australia’s nursing history remains largely untold. In the first six decades of the twentieth century, Aboriginal people were confronted with harsh exclusionary practices that forced them to live in settlements, reserves and missions.1 While many Aboriginal women worked in domestic roles (in white people’s homes and on rural properties), small numbers were trained at public hospitals and some Aboriginal women

in Colonial caring
Nursing the liberated persons at Bergen-Belsen
Jane Brooks

10 ‘The nurse stoops down … for me’: Nursing the liberated persons at Bergen-Belsen Jane Brooks On 15 April 1945, the British medical and nursing teams, under Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. D. Johnston, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and Senior Sister B. L. Higginbotham, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAs), arrived at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.1 Six days later when Sister Myrtle Beardwell arrived with the British Red Cross relief teams, she was immediately summoned to a meeting: Col Johnson [sic] C/O of the CCS [casualty clearing station

in One hundred years of wartime nursing practices, 1854–1953