RCN: History of Nursing Forum Annual Lecture

The recording of my annual lecture for the Royal College of Nursing’s History of Nursing Forum is now available online.

This talk “Black Nurses, Ensavled Labour, and the Royal Navy, 1790-1820” discusses the employment of Black nurses in the West Indian naval hospitals of the Royal Navy in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. She considers how eighteenth-century understandings of tropical diseases contributed to Black labour in medical settings, how the Royal Navy navigated its relationship with enslavement, and the working conditions of these nurses.

Nursing historians usually examine the period after Florence Nightingale and focus on the establishment of a white middle-class professional identity, like Nightingale herself. But what about non-white nurses before Nightingale?