Excited to join my history of medicine and history of nursing colleagues at the SSHM 2018! My paper “Nursing Careers at Haslar and Plymouth Naval Hospitals, 1769-1800” counters historiographical preconceptions about pre-Nightingale nursing through a detailed analysis of the nursing workforce at Plymouth and Haslar Naval Hospitals, in conjunction with the nursing regulations for naval medical care. As the experiences of nurses at Plymouth Naval Hospital show, the physical stability of naval hospitals allowed for nurses to develop healing and care skills over a period of longstanding employment.
I’m heading to Leeds for the day to present at the “Redcoats, Tommies, and Dusty Warriors: Britain’s Soldiers c.1650 to the present” conference. My paper “‘An awkward clumsy man’: Perceptions of female nurses and male orderlies in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars” demonstrates the at times contradictory views of female nurses and male orderlies in regimental and general hospitals. This is achieved through an examination of regulatory literature which highlights the officially endorsed ambiguity of the roles of nurses and orderlies in regimental and general hospitals while letters, memoirs, and medical treatises are used to showcase contemporary understandings of medical practitioners and military authorities on the provision of medical care in the army.
I’m in the lovely Roman city of Chester today to present at the UK Association for the History of Nursing Colloquium. My paper “‘And if they are to be men or Women’: Nursing on late-18th Century British Hospital Ships” considers the decision to employ women as nurses on British navy hospital ships and convalescent ships in the eighteenth century. Specifically to showcase the role of women in these floating medical institutions.
The programme for the colloquium is available here.
It was so great to be back in Nova Scotia for the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing Conference! Especially as it was my first CAHN conference that wasn’t held jointly with the CSHM as part of the Congress of Social Sciences and Humanities.
My paper “The Nursing Workforce at British Naval Hospitals in Haslar and Plymouth 1770-1800,” gave me the first chance to make some comparisons between Haslar and Plymouth from nursing pay list records. Although this analysis is still in the preliminary stages I hope to soon have the rest of the Haslar records added to the nursing database.
The full conference program is available here. Thank you to the Nova Scotia Nursing History Group and Gloria Stephens for organizing the conference!
I’m finishing up my time in Saskatchewan, by heading to Saskatoon for the Canadian History and Environment Summer Symposium. This year’s CHESS features both the traditional summer school and a new workshop component for the recently launched Papers in Canadian History and Environment. I will be workshopping my paper: “‘The Hardships he labours under for want of an Allowance of Fuel in that severe Climate’: Environment and Military and Naval Hospitals in Canada 1756-1814.”
Word cloud of my paper:
Watch later in June for my Congress/CHESS retrospective on my Saskatchewan conferencing adventures!
Super excited to present at the CHA this year with such wonderful people and to discuss the importance of subverting traditional historiographies! Word cloud of my paper accurately representing my use of pay list records to showcase the role of nurses in British naval hospitals.
Join us on Wednesday 30 May at 1:30!
Subverting Traditional Historiographies: Seeking Diversity in the Archives and Beyond | Contournerl’historiographie traditionnelle : à la recherche de la diversité dans les archives et ailleurs
Michelle Desveaux (University of Saskatchewan): “Firm Foundations: The National Archives as an Expression of Early 20th Century Canadian Historical Consciousness”
Katherine MacDonald (University of New Brunswick): “Organizing the Unorganisable?: International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union Decline and Membership Engagement in Montreal, 1970-1989”
Stephanie Pettigrew (University of New Brunswick): “Disrupting Colonial New France: Diversity in Seventeenth Century Colonial Populations”
Erin Spinney (University of Saskatchewan): “Forgotten Carers: How digital methodology illuminates female nursing in 18th century British Naval Hospitals”
Chair | Animatrice : Andrea Eidinger (University of British Columbia)
I’m going to be presenting twice at #Congressh2018 this year! My first meeting is with the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, where I will be discussing the medical care provided for nurses in eighteenth and early nineteenth century naval hospitals.
Join me bright and early on Monday, May 28th!
G1: Being Nurses 9:00-10:00 am
Chair: Frank Stanisch, University of Calgary LI 111
“Nursing the Nurses: Medical Care for Nurses in British Naval Hospitals 1790-1815/ Soigner les infirmières : soins médicaux pour les infirmières britanniques dans les hôpitaux de la marine 1790-1815” Erin Spinney, University of Saskatchewan*
“‘We have to remember there was a past’: A first glimpse of the Saskatchewan Nursing Oral History Collection 1950-2010/‘Souvenons-nous qu’il y a eu un passé’: Un premier aperçu de la Collection d’histoire orale des infirmières et des infirmiers de la Saskatchewan entre 1950 et 2010” Meghan Bend, Megan Hewson, Helen Vandenberg, University of Saskatchewan
My PhD dissertation is now available for download from the University of Saskatchewan eCommons website. Thank you to my committee members and co-supervisors for their help in completing this work!
This dissertation analyses the work of female nurses in military and naval hospitals from the mid eighteenth century until the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars in the early nineteenth century. Nursing history has primarily forgotten these women, or when they do enter into historical narratives, it is often as a foil when compared to the medical practitioner. Pre-Nightingale nurses are often framed by nursing historians as ineffective, ignorant drunkards, the embodiment of the Dickensian Sairey Gamp stereotype. By examining why medical practitioners and naval and military administrators decided to hire female nurses, it is possible to explore two frameworks of investigation in this dissertation. First, the importance of nurses to eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century military and naval clinical hospitals, was shown in official correspondence, regulations, and medical treatises. Examining the crucial role of nurses in maintaining a healthy healing environment through cleanliness and ventilation reintegrates nurses into a previously male medical practitioner dominated narrative. In Britain, both patient care and domestic duties were viewed, societally, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as distinctly female skills. At West Indian stations, the ideal nurses were also female. Yet, the additional layer of race and accompanying theories of racialized immunity to tropical diseases, combined with the stratified labour market of the islands, meant that Black women were considered by medical practitioners to be the best nurses. These considerations resulted in the employment of enslaved women at the Bermuda Naval Hospital. Second, I counter historiographical preconceptions about pre-Nightingale nursing through a detailed prosopographical analysis of the nursing workforce at Plymouth Naval Hospitals, in conjunction with the nursing regulations for military and naval medical systems of care. As the experiences of nurses of Plymouth Naval Hospital show, the physical stability of naval hospitals allowed for nurses to develop healing and care skills over a period of longstanding employment. These nurses were not, as the historiographical prejudice contends, primarily thieves and drunkards. Furthermore, a comparison of military and naval regulations demonstrates that the regulatory structure of naval hospitals, and the position of nurses in them, cannot be explained merely by the permanence of their institutions. Nursing and nurses were part of a broader professionalization of healing practices in the second half of the eighteenth century. As complex institutions, naval hospitals only functioned when everyone’s role in the hospital was clear. In the army, by contrast, the role of nurses was less explicit and not carefully delineated. When recollecting the pre-Nightingale period of nursing, it is often the military nurses who are recalled by nursing historians – women seen even at the time as replaceable, untrained, and unnecessary. Reconfiguring our view to include the naval nurse – valued, crucial to hospital operation, and with a defined role – complicates the long-standing progressivist account of nursing after Nightingale to illustrate continuity between the two periods.
Tomorrow I’m off to the American Association for the History of Medicine in Los Angeles! I’m excited for the conference, my first visit to California, and the chance to go swimming in the ocean in May. It is also the first opportunity I have to present on my new postdoctoral project “A System of Care and Control: British Naval Medicine 1790-1815.”
Information about our panel:
Saturday, May 12, 2018 F2. Great Britain: Systems of Care and Knowledge
Location: Legacy A + B
Chair: Jacob Steere-Williams (College of Charleston)
1. Erin Spinney (University of Saskatchewan) Hospital Ships within a System of Care and Control: British Naval Medicine 1790-1815
2. Stephanie Snow (University of Manchester)
Rationing in a Universal Health System: The Treatment of Renal Failure in Guy’s and St Thomas’, London, 1970s-1990s
3. Seth LeJacq (Duke University)
Bodies Made Knowable: Sexual Crime and the Emergence of Published Sexual Forensics in Britain, 1780-1840