By Sue Hawkins
This e-book offers a brand new exam of Victorian nurses which demanding situations commonly-held assumptions approximately their personality and motivation. 19th century nursing historical past has, previously, targeted nearly solely on nurse leaders, at the improvement of nursing as a career and the politics surrounding registration. This emphasis on immense issues, and reliance at the writings of nursing’s higher stratum, has ended in nursing historical past being affected by stereotypes. This ebook is likely one of the first makes an attempt to appreciate, intimately, the genuine nature of Victorian nursing at flooring point.
Uniquely, the examine perspectives nursing via an financial lens, in place of the extra traditional vocational concentration. Nursing is put within the wider context of women’s position in British society, and the altering customers for girl employment within the excessive Victorian interval. utilizing St George’s health facility, London as a case learn, the booklet explores the evolution of nurse recruitment, education, stipulations of employment and profession improvement within the moment 1/2 the 19th century. Pioneering prosopographical suggestions, which mixed archival fabric with census info to create a database of named nurses, have enabled the new release – for the 1st time – of biographies of standard nurses.
Sue Hawkins’ findings belie the image of nursing as a career ruled by way of heart classification girls. Nursing was once a melting pot of social sessions, with promoting and chance prolonged to all girls at the foundation of benefit by myself. This pioneering paintings will curiosity scholars and researchers in nursing background, the social and cultural historical past of Victorian England and women’s studies.
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Extra info for Nursing and women's labour in the nineteenth century : the quest for independence
A vigorous debate on the subject was conducted through a series of letters to The Hospital in the late 1890s, providing more evidence of their imprecise nature. A matron started the debate, complaining that, despite advertising for ‘gentlewomen’ to fill probationer posts in her hospital, she had been inundated by applications from ‘all sorts and classes’. In her opinion, the term had implied ‘good birth and education’, but respondents had wilfully misunderstood this (H/NM, 6 August 1898: 167). Some readers of The Hospital disagreed.
The triumvirate of domesticity, two spheres and respectability therefore conspired to confine the Victorian middle-class woman to the home; and yet, in apparent contradiction, she was expected to venture into the most dangerous of places to undertake work with the poor. It was her key duty to society, to reform the morals and manners (and therefore control the behaviour) of the lower classes. With her education in religion and domestic management, and inherent female attributes of empathy, tenderness and purity, the middle-class woman was admirably equipped for the work (Prochaska 1980).
Brewster, in 1855, urged ladies to visit the inmates of workhouses, with a similar warning, ‘If you do not know what they do, neither do they know what you do’ (quoted in Summers 1979: 40). Both argued that the most effective way to influence the lower classes was to infiltrate their homes, and thereby, their minds and manners. There were practical reasons which made middle-class women ideal candidates for this work, as well as ideological arguments: they had already had direct contact with the working classes through their management of domestic servants (Summers 1979).
Nursing and women's labour in the nineteenth century : the quest for independence by Sue Hawkins