HSTM Seminar at Oxford

I’m happy to be back at Oxford for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Seminar on Monday May 13th! Come and hear “Women’s Labour and British Naval Hospitals and Hospital Ships 1775-1815” at 16:00 in the History Faculty Lecture Theatre on George Street. Coffee will be available from 15:30.

Audio Recording of A Species of Knowledge Presentation

The audio of my presentation “Seniority, Experience and On-the-job Training at British Naval Hospitals 1775-1815” from the April 5 symposium A Species of Knowledge: Women and Medicine 1750-1850 is now available on SoundCloud! Thank you to the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies for the recording. Find links to the other presentations as well as the keynote by Prof. Hillary Marland here.

AAHN: Christy Award

My PhD dissertation, “Naval and Military Nursing c. 1763-1830,” has been awarded the American Association for the History of Nursing Teresa E. Christy award.  You can download my dissertation here.

The purpose of the Teresa E. Christy Award is to encourage new nursing history investigators, and to recognize excellence of historical research and writing done while the researcher was in a student status. The Christy Award is given for doctoral dissertations.

American Association for the History of Nursing

Library and Archives Canada-Bibliothèque et Archives Canada / PA-029622

Excited to be heading to San Diego for the 2018 AAHN conference.  It is my first time presenting a joint paper with my colleague Glenn Iceton!  Our paper examines frontier nursing activities by Anglican missionaries Isaac and Sadie Stringer in the Yukon.  The paper specifically considers the gendered and colonial dynamics of healthcare delivery in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries among whaling and indigenous communities on Herschel Island.

Join our panel at 1 pm on September 14 in Point Loma A.

Missionary Nurses 
1. Sisters of Mercy: The walking Nun’s Siouxland Journey & Experiences in nursing-Diane Smith

2. American Missionary Nurses negotiate a place in the mission: The politics of application, assignment and resignation-Lydia Wytenbroek

3. Sadie and Isaac Stringer, Herschel Island and Northern missionary healthcare in the late-19th Century-Erin Spinney, Glenn Iceton

Environmental History Workshop

I had a great time at the Inaugural Environmental History Workshop this past Monday!  Our panel (composed of all individually submitted abstracts) meshed so well!

Healthy Environments, Wolfson Room NB01 (Chair: Vanessa Taylor, University of Greenwich)

Rebecca Wright, University of York, ‘Heating Gotham: environments of health and energy in New York City and beyond, 1900–1950’

Erin Spinney, University of Oxford, ‘Nursing the built environment: environmental medicine in British naval hospitals, 1790–1815’

Tayler Meredith, University of Birmingham, ‘“Eclipsed in such a Cloud of Sulphur”: sunlight and health in early modern London’

The full conference program is available here.

Canadian Association for the History of Nursing Conference 2018

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!

CSHM 2018

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.

Word cloud of my paper. I think I enjoy making word clouds a bit too much!

Join me bright and early on Monday, May 28th!

Panel information:

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

 

Naval and Military Nursing in the British Empire c. 1763-1830

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!

Abstract:

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.