The Politics of Nursing History: Identities and Boundaries

Date / time: 29 June, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

The Politics of Nursing History: Identities and Boundaries

Find out about important contributions to nursing history, and consider what they can tell us about nursing today.

A Joint Event Organised by the RCN History of Nursing Forum and the UK Association for the History of Nursing (UKAHN).

For centuries, nurses and healthcare workers have performed a vital role in society. But what do we really know about their history? Join us to explore some of the most significant contributions to understanding the last 150 years of nursing. Find out what historians and nurses have learnt from their research and reflect on what it might tell us about healthcare today.

We will hear from Anne Summers about her research into British military nurses between 1854 and 1914, Peter Nolan on the history of mental health nursing, Karen Flynn on Black Caribbean and Canadian women in nursing and Anne Marie Rafferty on nursing politics in the twentieth century. In a session chaired by Jane Brooks, panellists will revisit their influential texts, reflecting on the process of their research and what has changed since, as well as considering the future directions of nursing history.

This event is free and open to all. Please register to attend and a link will be circulated in advance with instructions on how to join the event. All tickets must be booked individually.

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Dr Anne Summers is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, a former Curator of Modern Historical Papers at the British Library (1989-2004) and Wellcome Trust Research Fellow (1986-1989). In addition to Angels and Citizens (1988 and 2000) she has published numerous articles on civilian nursing in the 19th century. Her latest book is Christian and Jewish Women in Britain 1880-1940: Living with Difference (2017).

Professor Peter Nolan spent most of his working life participating in different mental health services, after training as a psychiatric nurse in the 1960s. While he found the content of training courses, the stated aims of therapies and the language of policies and management beguiling, he felt that the reality of the lives and experiences of nurses and patients lay elsewhere. His first book, A History of Mental Health Nursing (1991), sought to show that mental health nursing had not only a history, but a fascinating one. Now in retirement, Peter continues to research and write so that the voices of mental health nurses from previous centuries and decades can be heard.

Dr Karen Flynn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of African American Studies Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr Flynn is also the associate chair for the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Dr Flynn’s book: Moving Beyond Borders: Black Canadian and Caribbean women in the African Canadian Diaspora published by University of Toronto won the Lavinia L. Dock Award from the American Association of the History of Nursing. She is currently working on a second book project tentatively titled, The Black Pacific: The African Diaspora in East Asia that maps the travel itineraries of young Black EFL teachers across borders.

Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty CBE is Professor of Nursing Policy, and former Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King’s College London. She is a historian and health workforce and policy researcher and was the first nurse to gain a doctorate (DPhil Modern History) from Oxford University. Her well-known book, The Politics of Nursing Knowledge, was first published by Routledge in 1996. Most recently, she has published Germs and Governance: The past, present and future of hospital infection, prevention and control (edited with Marguerite Dupree and Fay Bound Alberti). She was president of the Royal College of Nursing from 2019 to 2021.

For any queries about this event please contact RCN Library & Archives tel: 03453373368