History

La Motte and nursing, 1898–1913

Chapter 1 examines the milieu in which La Motte studied, the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses, where she began a curriculum that reflected the school’s desire to professionalize nursing and teach the latest nursing standards. Many of the women associated with the nursing school in its early years were also involved in social reform, and the models they provided of socially engaged nursing practitioners undoubtedly had a profound effect on La Motte as she eventually found her place in the anti-tuberculosis campaign in Baltimore, first as a visiting district nurse and then as an executive in the Health Department. It also discusses her development as a writer and speaker after her graduation from nursing school and examines her writings, such as her published articles about the best approaches to tuberculosis nursing, to see how she positioned herself in the debates about the most effective ways to combat tuberculosis as she developed her public voice as a nurse and reformer in these years. Through an examination of these issues, the chapter builds a picture of how La Motte progressed professionally through her work as a vocal advocate for public health.

in Ellen N. La Motte
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The end of campaigning, 1930s–1961

The conclusion discusses La Motte’s life from the 1930s until her death in the 1961. The Great Depression forced her and Emily Chadbourne to return permanently to the United States, where they settled in Washington, DC and New York State. La Motte’s publications slowed in the early 1930s, then ceased as she turned her attention to investing in real estate in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC and pursuing intellectual interests, such as business affairs or working for a brief time with the National Woman’s Party, while enjoying her circle of friends. It also offers a final summative reflection on the significance of her long career.

in Ellen N. La Motte
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Nurse, writer, activist

Ellen La Motte: nurse, writer, activist, is a biography of La Motte that traces the arc of her life, from her birth in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1873 to her death in Washington, D.C. in 1961. It integrates original unexamined sources such as diaries, unpublished manuscripts, and publishing contracts along with primary sources—letters, newspaper articles, health department reports, and public records—with an examination of her prolific published writings, about topics as diverse as tuberculosis nursing, women’s suffrage, nursing during the Great War, and the opium trade. It considers of how she developed as a nurse, writer, and activist once she entered the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses in 1898 and grew into a potent force in the anti-tuberculosis campaign. Gaining experience speaking and writing on behalf of controversial causes, La Motte put her talents to use on behalf of the fight for the vote for women, nursing during World War I and the anti-opium campaign.

This chapter focuses on La Motte’s decision to leave London in the fall of 1913 to move to Paris, where she stayed until the outbreak of World War One, living in the bohemian Montparnasse district while completing the culmination of her nursing work, The Tuberculosis Nurse, and attempting to develop her skills as a writer of short fiction. After the completion of the book, La Motte intended to leave nursing behind permanently and to become a writer of short fiction, a form she had been exploring for several years, as her unpublished manuscripts reveal. The start of the war in August 1914, right at the time La Motte had returned to the United States after living in Europe for more than a year, led her back to Paris and to a prolonged search to find a nursing position. During more than six months of searching, La Motte’s diary reveals that she encountered significant frustration finding a position. By drawing on her unpublished manuscripts, letters, and a diary, this chapter examines her personal and professional frustrations as she tried to put her great skills to use as a war nurse.

in Ellen N. La Motte
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The making of a nurse, writer, and activist

The introduction situates La Motte and her work by providing background regarding her early life and her family’s relationship to the du Ponts of Delaware, her cousins, and the interconnections between the families that were to have an important influence on her development. It also discusses her decision to attend the Johns Hopkins Training School for Nurses and considers her activism in the fields of public health nursing, suffrage, and the anti-opium crusade as well as her long-term relationship with Emily Chadbourne in an effort to provide an overview of her intellectual and professional interests

in Ellen N. La Motte

Chapter 2 analyzes La Motte’s active involvement in the suffrage cause, especially after 1910, drawing on her published writings and newspaper reports. She frequently gave talks in favor of suffrage and served as an editor for several suffrage publications. This chapter examines how her professionalization as a nurse contributed to her political activism. As she found her voice and honed her skills as a writer and speaker in the field of nursing, she developed the confidence to speak about the controversial topic of woman suffrage and found her footing as an outspoken and eloquent proponent of the vote. Her devotion to the cause led her to leave her nursing position for London to write a series about militant suffragettes for Baltimore’s the Sun. The chapter ends with an examination of those writings and a consideration of how they reflect her political development while foreshadowing her views of militarism, upon which she would expand during World War One.

in Ellen N. La Motte

This chapter studies book provenance, auction and library catalogues, and reading networks to explore the circulation of Tagliacozzi’s rhinoplasty technique in medical society across early modern Britain. Copies of relevant medical texts can be traced to numerous individual surgeons, physicians, and other educated men, as well as several university and medical libraries that would have exposed the procedure to an interested readership. An English translation of De curtorum chirurgia was appended to the Chirurgorum comes of surgeon Alexander Read in 1686. The chapter explores Read’s attitudes towards plastic surgery techniques and the treatment of stigmatised (especially poxed) patients more broadly, and argues that he has been overlooked in the field. The publication history of this translation is explored in detail, and physician Francis Bernard proposed as the anonymous translator and editor. Further important owners of De curtorum chirurgia and Chirurgorum comes are discussed, including Francis’ brother, Sergeant Surgeon Charles Bernard. The chapter finally examines the writings of James Yonge, a Plymouth naval surgeon who publicised the use of a skin flap in amputations, for his strategic differentiation of his procedure from Taliacotian skin flaps.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Changing noses, changing fortunes

The conclusion uses two of the most famously disfigured noses in British literature to cohere strands of analysis pursued throughout the book. In both Henry Fielding’s Amelia and Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, the eponymous character’s nose is crushed in an accident. In Amelia, Fielding was attempting to create an unimpeachable heroine whose forbearance is testimony to her good character. The ridicule with which critics greeted Amelia’s injury, including tying it to Taliacotian rhinoplasty, attests to the continued significance of the damaged nose. Sterne, meanwhile, openly ridiculed the stigmatisation of nasal injuries by casting this as naive and ostensibly outdated. Though he mentions Tagliacozzi, it is only briefly, and this and further evidence from his library suggests that he was not particularly familiar with De curtorum chirurgia. Physician John Ferriar’s essay on the nose in Sterne’s book is the most fully informed about Tagliacozzi’s procedure and its historiography. Ferriar’s essay, alongside Fielding’s and Sterne’s novels, serves to elucidate how the reception of Tagliacozzi, and wider themes attached to autograft and allograft rhinoplasty, persisted, but also shifted to allow for the successful revival of rhinoplasty at the end of the eighteenth century.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Noses on sale

Chapter five engages with the commodification of living human flesh proposed within stories of sympathetic allograft rhinoplasty. In early accounts the flesh was sourced from a slave who gained manumission; as the story was domesticated for British economic conditions and concerns, this became a cash-in-hand servant. The chapter employs economic critiques of the alienability of gifts and commodities to read the attempted commoditisation of the transplanted flesh and other bodily products and argue that the accounts emphasised the failure of the graft in order to secure the inalienability of the living human body. The only British exception to the purchased graft story is a poem by Lady Hester Pulter in which she offers her own flesh to Sir William Davenant. As a first-person account of a noble, female, gifting individual, Pulter’s poem represents a striking deviation from other extant narratives, and the chapter offers a close analysis of her use of the conceit. Building on the evidence for book ownership in earlier chapters, Pulter’s (mis)understanding of Tagliacozzi’s procedure attests to the forms of restricted medical knowledge afforded to women who were otherwise able to engage with wider healthcare regimes, medications, and operations.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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To supply the scandalous want of that obvious part

This chapter introduces the current historiographical understanding of ‘Taliacotian’ nose surgery, and the false narrative of disappearance that has hampered histories of plastic surgery while serving specific discursive ends for this controversial medical field from the nineteenth century to now. It introduces early modern rhinoplasty to the history of transplantation, and discusses its relationship to syphilis. The introduction ends with a clear, concise outline of chapters that highlights their thematic and interpretative connections.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture