Registration open for the 2020 UKAHN Colloquium

Scenic view of Chichester, UK

The 23rd UK Association for the History of Nursing Research Colloquium will be held on Tuesday 30th June 2020 at the Friends Meeting House, Priory Road, Chichester, West Sussex, UK, PO19 1NX   from 9.30am – 5pm. 

There will be a full day of papers covering a wide variety of national and international nursing history topics. The Colloquium has a proud tradition of providing a supportive environment and space for researchers to present work in progress and obtain feedback for further development of their research.  

See the UKAHN website for the Call for Papers

Regulation, Resilience and Resistance: The Struggle for Professional Nursing (1887-2019)

Prof Christine Hallett

Professor Christine E. Hallett
Wednesday 1 April 2020, 5.30 – 7.30pm
University of Worcester, City Campus, Castle Street, Worcester WR1 3AS

The year 2019 marks the centenary of the Nurses Registration Act, the legislation which inaugurated the first British professional nurses’ register and founded the General Nursing Council, the forerunner of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The register itself was created in 1921. Christine Hallet’s lecture will explore the work of reforming nurse, Ethel Gordon Fenwick (1857-1947), who led the campaign for nurse-regulation. It will also look more broadly at the changing nature of professional regulation for British nurses across a broad span of time from 1887 (the year the British Nurses’ Association was founded) to the present day.


The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. There is a hearing loop in the lecture room. We can offer large print copies of presentations if requested at least a week before the event. Assistance dogs are welcome.

If you have any other needs, please email us at and we will assist you wherever possible. Advertised start times are when the doors open. Talks usually begin 30 minutes later. Check back nearer the time for the full programme. Where possible, we film events and put them up online.

Nurse Practitioner History Research Scholar Award

GOAL: The goal of this research award is to disseminate scholarship regarding nurse practitioners to an international audience. By strengthening relationships and collaborations to increase access to historical scholarship, the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry (ECBCNHI) hopes to advance historical scholarship to practitioners.

1. The ECBCNHI leadership will publicize through our own School of Nursing, and in addition, other international nursing organizations such as American Association for the History of Nursing, the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing, the American Association for the History of Medicine, etc. It will also be publicized on the web and social media accounts for these organizations. The due date will be set for late spring with the intention of the recipient using the award the following academic year.

2. Eligibility: Any student pursuing a DNP, Ph.D. or an established scholar. This award is not limited to nursing scholars and could include others from medicine and healthcare. Recipients will be asked to provide a full research proposal and/or description of a project that will forward a research agenda, including:

  • A concise statement of research or description of project they wish to conduct
  • A narrative describing the project placed within the context of the present need for research and practice
  • Identification of resources to be utilised
  • An itemised budget detailing the ways they will be using the research funds
  • A current CV

3. Additional marketing will occur through previously proposed channels to remind potential applicants of deadline.

4. Proposals and supporting materials will be received by ECBCNHI and distributed to each of the Review Committee Members by the late spring date determined.

5. Determination: The Review Committee will consist of current and retired historians associated with the ECBCNHI. The due date is June 1, 2020. At least a minimum of two historians and one advanced practice nurse will make up the committee, and the decision will be made by July 1, 2020.

6. The Review Committee submits information about selected recipient to the donor. In addition, recipient will be announced via multiple publications. The donor will determine if their information will be included in publicity, or if they desire to remain anonymous.

7. Letter to recipient is composed and sent by ECBCNHI and signed by Director of the Center (copy to Theresa McDaniel) with criteria, donor information, and thank you letter request.

8. ECBCNHI works with finance office to present recipient with check upon award.

9. The recipient must agree to provide a research presentation after the proposed project is complete to selected faculty (donor included if desired). In addition, they must produce submission-ready paper for publication and thank you letter for the donor.

10. The School of Nursing Alumni and Development Office receives copy of thank you letter to donor from recipient by a date agreed upon with ECBCNHI based on the research project implementation.

Call for abstracts

Third Issue 2021

The European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics is an interdisciplinary Open Access and peer-reviewed eJournal spanning the Humanities, Nursing Science, Social Sciences, and Cultural Studies. The journal is published online once a year with each edition having an individual theme. In addition, all volumes provide an open section that contains articles on various topics.

The Journal is seeking contributions both to

  • the open sectionand
  • themed section.

Theme 2021: Scarcity of nurses from a historical and ethical perspective

Deadline for Abstracts: August 30th, 2019

Complaints about the lack of staff mark both the history and present time in nursing in many European countries. The variety of possible areas of work rarely seems to be met with a sufficient number of nursing staff. Yet we can detect phases of more intense perceptions of crises in which at times even transnational shortages of nursing staff are announced. The third issue of the European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics is dedicated to the historical and ethical dimensions of these shortages of nurses and their meaning for the development of nursing.

Potential questions for articles:

  • Which times of distinct shortages of nurses can be historically detected and which causes can be identified? To what extent were these transnational phenomena? 
  • In current social scientific debates the redistribution of care work has been globally discussed under the term Global Care Chain (Arlie Hochschild). The increasing employment of women in first world countries would lead to an increasing demand for care workers that would be largely filled by female migrants from poorer countries. How can these processes be put into a historical context?
  • How did the perceptions of nurse shortages arise and who promoted them? How did the issue became a social-political agenda item (if applicable)? Which forms of scandalisation proved to be particularly successful?
  • What exactly was perceived as a shortage? Did it have primarily to do with quantity (the shortage of staff in total) or quality (lack of well-trained personnel) or was the issue the consequences of insufficient supplies for the staff (i.e. overstretched staff or an increasing flight from the job)?
  • Which ethical dimension had an impact on the perception of a shortage, both with regard to providing the necessary framework for good care and to treating the staff well?
  • What did the daily working life look like in times of shortages? How did the nurses deal with the stressful situation?
  • Which suggestions were put forward to remedy the shortage of nurses and how were they discussed?
  • What measures to rectify the shortages of nurses were implemented and what were the consequences?

New role for Professor Christine Hallett

Prof Christine Hallett

Professor Christine Hallett has recently been appointed as Professor of Nursing History. She has written a number of books on the subject and her latest volume is due for publication in December, which will explore the story and life of famous Great War nurse Edith Cavell. On Saturday 10 November, Professor Hallett will be the keynote speaker in Wakefield, where she will talk about the life of Wakefield World War One nurse Nellie Spindler.

New Book: “Always Caring: The story of the Belgian Nurses during WW1”

The historiography of the First World War and nursing pays nearly no attention to the work of the Belgian nurses during the Great War. This book adresses research questions relating to who these nurses were and what they were doing during the war. Therefore different sub-questions were asked. How many nurses were trained during the war? What were their main nursing practices? Were they organised as a professional group? What was the image of the Belgian nurses? How did the profession evolved immediately after the war? By answering these questions their story is told and the history of nursing in Belgium during the First World War is reconstructed.

For centuries nursing in Belgium was the monopoly of nuns. This changed at the end of the nineteenth century. Schools for secularised nurses started in Liège (1882), Brussels (1887), Antwerp (1902) and again Brussels (three schools in 1907). In 1908 the government created a certificate for nurses, after a mainly theoretical schooling of one year. Although catholic and medical circles were highly sceptical, these new trainings became very successful. The different courses resulted in 4,477 trained nurses at the beginning of the war.

During the war, these courses simply continued. They were not confronted with obstructions by the occupying power. Schools were also created in London and Calais, with the aim to prepare nurses for Belgian military hospitals. 1,792 Belgian nurses were educated that way. At least 800 nurses, who were trained before and during the war, were involved in Belgian military hospitals.
One of the main questions of this study was about the practices of Belgian front nurses during the war. They suffered physically and mentally in their contacts with wounded and starving soldiers. A lot of nurses became exhausted and suffered  illness. Some of them were obliged to stop working by the pressure of the war. 34 nurses didn’t survive the war. Based on an analysis of more than 200 files, a profile of the front nurses was calculated: their average age was 31 years, 10 months and 28 days, and their average seniority 2 years, 8 months and 28 days.

During the war, attempts were made to organise the nurses and so trying to shape their professional identity. The main instigator was Marie Elisabeth Belpaire, who already created a women’s association before the war. In 1916 she started a monthly review especially for Belgian nurses in non-occupied Belgium, with the aim to stimulate a professional orgnisation. Her efforts met with no success. At the end of the war, an organisation for the moral support of nurses was created by the wife of Belgian minister Paul Hymans.

The building of the image of Belgian nurses during the war looked rather diffuse. The main image in nurses’ personal testimonies was that of the nurse as mother and as an example of care. There were also negative images, which depicted nurses as prostitutes or nymphomaniacs. The image of the white angel, which dominated the discourse after the war, was not present during the conflict. This proves that it was a post-war construction.

Finally, the analysis to investigate if post-war developments were influenced by the war resulted in an answer that wasn’t unidimensional. The nursing schools had problems with their recruitment immediately after the war and didn’t profit from the rather positive image of the war nurse. In 1921, the government created new legislation on the training of nursing, which took into account the war experiences. Stimulated mainly by front nurses, a professional organisation for nurses was created in 1922, although it was not an easy task to fight for their rights against the persistent scepticism of the medical world.

Did the war have an emancipatory effect on the nurses’ profession? The answer is rather negative. During and after the war nurses stayed in a subordinate relation with the doctors, the nursing schools couldn’t copy their pre-war success and their image wasn’t very well-known by a large part of the population. The agency of the Belgian nurses during and immediately after the war wasn’t very high.

Sometimes curing, most of the time relieving, always caring’ was mentioned on the medal of nurses in L’Océan, the biggest front hospital in non-occupied Belgium. It wasn’t easy for Belgian nurses to fulfill this triple mission during the four years of the war. But different sources, especially the war diary of the Belgian nurse Jane de Launoy, proved that they achieved this most of the time. The care – influenced by the catholic roots of nursing in Belgium – was the most important element. ‘Always caring’ is therefore the best summary of the work of Belgian nurses during the First World War.

Luc de Munck


Doctor, I refuse to do this

In 2015, nurses in the Netherlands received a new professional code. This was a breakthrough. No longer were there four separate codes but only a single ethical point of departure on the basis of which care could be administrated. All nurses can recognise themselves in it. This is our profession, and this is the way we perform it. One might ask why it took so long.

Ethical indications
Around 1900, there was also a kind of professional code in force. It was called ethical indications for the nurse, based on the fundamental principles as formulated by Florence Nightingale in her “Notes on Nursing” from 1859. The first Dutch handbooks were written by physicians and always started with ethical rules. Physicians knew perfectly well what should be demanded of nurses. Obedience was first and foremost here. From 1910 on, when the first clinical nurse managers started to write handbooks themselves, they also devoted ample attention to ethics in nursing. In the 1930s, the 10 commandments by nurse educator Melk were popular. Even today, they are well worth reading. Obviously, their wording is old-fashioned, but the essence is the same: good and civilised nursing, through the use of heart, head and hands. After 1930, when nursing was gradually divided through the pillarisation of Dutch society, protestant and catholic leaders each wrote their own professional codes, based on the Christian faith and intended for their own circles.

But what is the advantage of a national professional code for the nurses themselves? I wish we would have had such a professional code in the 1970s. As a nurse fresh from school, I worked at the psychiatric ward of a medium-sized hospital. Without any knowledge of psychiatric nursing, I was scheduled to assist a psychiatrist in the weekly electroshock treatments. Every Tuesday morning, some 10 patients came in to undergo this treatment. After one morning of this duty, it was clear to me that it was an inhuman treatment. Without any form of sedation or compassion, electrodes were placed on the temples of depressed patients, who were then subjected to a degrading epileptic seizure. I was shocked. When I was again scheduled to perform this duty, I refused. The serving psychiatrist was beside himself over such disobedience. He assured me that my refusal to assist him meant my dismissal. I was obviously taken aback by that, but decided to pay no heed to the threat. ‘Doctor, I refuse to do this,’ was my reaction. I was not dismissed and there even was an adjustment of the procedure surrounding the electroshock treatment.

Professional code

What a support it would have been if I had been able to appeal to a universal professional code. If I had been able to say that I refused because it was my duty as a nurse “not to endanger the health and safety of the patient”, as the code states. How great it is that such a universal professional code is now in place and that nurses can appeal to it.

Nannie Wiegman
Florence Nightingale Instituut

Nurse Stieltjes’ Doll

The history of nursing is closely linked to women’s rights. At least, in most European countries. In the Netherlands, the connection is tenuous at best. There, the archives yield no names of nurses who were members of both the women’s movement and a nursing organisation. There are just a few exceptions, such as Jeanne van Lanschot Hubrecht. The reason for this is the subject of my research. I was pleasantly surprised when there was yet another link between nursing and women’s rights, from 1898.

A silver medal

It all started with a telephone call from a district nurse of my acquaintance. She asked me to come to a village in the province of Brabant. Having arrived at a small farm, I followed the district nurse inside. In the gloom, an old lady was sitting in an old-fashioned armchair. We introduced ourselves and had a cup of tea. I had no idea what was in store for me. The old lady asked me: “Are you the author of the article on nurse Antje Stieltjes?” Yes, I had indeed written such an article. In 1998, a group of colleagues and I had issued a collection, about the centennial commemoration of the National Exhibition of Women’s Labour. This Exhibition took place in 1898 on the occasion of the accession to the throne of Queen Wilhelmina. This was such an event that the Dutch Women’s movement organised an exhibition in The Hague. It was a huge success. In conclusion of the exhibition, a committee of distinguished ladies organised a contest for products of women in the Netherlands who had made, embroidered, conceived or developed something extraordinary: “send them to us and be awarded with a silver medal bearing the likeness of Queen Wilhelmina”. Countless women went to work and send in their products. Sadly, none of these products has been preserved, until 1998.

Nurse Stieltjes’ Doll

In the archive, I had discovered that nurse Antje Stieltjes, district nurse by profession, had won this silver medal in 1898. She had developed a new bandage for men suffering from severe eczema, the so-called Labourer’s Bandage. Thereupon, she had bought a doll, had bandaged it with her Labourer’s Bandage and had sent it to the contest’s jury in a shoebox. In September 1898, Antje received notice that she had won the much-coveted medal.

The old lady looked me in the eye and said, “I am so glad that you have saved nurse Stieltjes from oblivion through this article, since Antje was my stepmother, who adopted me in 1905. And due to the article, I finally know what is in that shoe box in the attic.” The district nurse stepped out of the room for a moment and returned with a box, which the old lady then handed to me. When I opened the box, I got goose bumps. There was nurse Stieltjes’ doll, from 1898, fitted with the Labourer’s Bandage, delicate, tiny but intact. I sat there for minutes, looking at it breathlessly. The silver medal and photographs of nurse Stieltjes were also in the box. I safely returned the doll to the box and we said our emotional goodbyes.

Two weeks later, I received the obituary notice. The old lady had passed away and had bequeathed the doll, the medal and the photographs to the Florence Nightingale Institute. The Nursing Collection had acquired another important piece and there was indeed a link between nursing and the women’s movement in the Netherlands.

Nannie Wiegman
Florence Nightingale Instituut

Call for Papers: “Bads” in healthcare

Call for Papers – deadline: 30th of November 2017 (extended until 20th December 2018)

The European Conference of the Swiss Society of the History of Health and Nursing (GPG-HSS) in Cooperation with the European Association for the History of Nursing (EAHN) and the European Journal for Nursing History, Theory and Ethics (ENHE), will take place on the 21st and 22nd of June 2018 at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), School of Health, Winterthur (Switzerland).

The conference calls for contributions from scholars who can present research relating to negative experiences of and with health professionals such as nurses, midwives and therapists. Their starting point should be the individual or the collective experience of health professionals and/or of patients and family members with bad care. They should find answers to these questions: What shaped experience of “bads” as the actors addressed them? Whom did they make responsible for their negative experiences? How did they explain them? What did they claim? How did the actors involved deal with the negative experiences? How did those made responsible for “bads” respond to re-establish their standards of good healthcare, reputation and trustworthiness? How did this process contribute to reforms in healthcare?

The following fields of research are suggested:

  1. patients and patient’s organisations: rights of patients and family members; complaints about “bads” in professional health care; goals for compensation and/or improvement; strategies to gain influence; networking for cooperation with health professionals.
  2. professional standards: “good” in healthcare turns “bad” or vice versa; theory and ethics of “bads”; norms of professional competences; the significance of research to negative care experiences; development of methods for quality improvements.
  3. everyday “bads” of professionals in healthcare: narratives of “bads” in care relations with patients and relatives, superiors, colleagues; trans-professional cooperation; the search for reforms in practice.
  4. managing “bads”: the institutionalisation and role of ethics committees; surveys and the steering of patient’s and collaborator’s satisfaction.
  5. Care in public: media scandals; ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ in care; healthcare in court; effects of public discussions for healthcare improvements.
  6. The quest for historical research: victims turn into witnesses; the role and work of committees of inquiry; integration or not of the blamed professionals; development reconciliation and of commemorative cultures for “bads” in past healthcare.

To participate at the conference, please apply with an abstract of 400 words maximum, which includes title, research question, methods, and sources used as well as results, before the
30th of November 2017 (extended until 20th of December 2017) via email to The Conference Committee will disclose its decisions relating to the acceptance or non-acceptance of papers by the 15th of January 2018. The spoken language at the conference will be English. A slot of 30 minutes per paper will be permitted, and papers will be allotted in threes, to 90-minute panels. A maximum of 20 minutes should be used for each paper; the remainder of the time is reserved for discussion. The fundraising for the conference is still ongoing so that the reimbursement of the costs of accommodation, travel and meals cannot yet be guaranteed. Please send any enquiries to