Colloquium 2019

The Friends’ Meeting House, Cirencester, United Kingdom


5th July 2019

The UK Association for the History of Nursing is hosting a one-day colloquium on 5th July, 2019, in collaboration with the European Association for the History of Nursing.  The theme will be ‘Histories of Humanitarian Nursing’, but abstracts on other subjects related to nursing and healthcare history will be welcomed and considered.  Selected papers will be presented at the Colloquium, and then further reviewed for possible publication in the 2019 issue of the Bulletin of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, or the 2020 issue of the European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics.

Colloquium Theme: Humanitarian Nursing

Nursing, as an occupation committed to the relief of suffering, may be said to be a humanitarian endeavour. However, the notion of the ‘humanitarian nurse’ is a contested concept, embedded in a colonial past dominated by powerful religious, political and military interests. Even the introduction of non-governmental organisations in the twentieth century, arguably, only replaced these power-bases with new sources of vested interest. Although the organisers will be pleased to receive research-based papers on any theme relating to the history of nursing, we are particularly interested in bringing together works that critically interrogate the claim that nursing exists only to relieve suffering; analyse the notion of the ‘humanitarian nurse’ from a historical perspective; and locate the contribution of nursing within wider humanitarian debates. A deeper understanding of nursing’s historic roles and activities can help inform the current global debate on how to meet the unprecedented demands for humanitarian assistance. Although nurses remain the largest frontline healthcare providers in humanitarian and global health projects, the voice of nursing was marginalized in the debates that culminated in the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. Recovering nurses’ historical narratives may inform current requirements for nurses’ education, and their preparation for, and recovery from humanitarian deployment. Attention to the history of humanitarian nursing will enable present-day leaders to protect nurses’ wellbeing, security, and effectiveness in the multiplicity of roles and responsibilities that far exceed mere technical competency. It is intended that the Colloquium will help inform not only the debates enveloping humanitarian nursing’s conflicted historic role but also its contemporary challenges in navigating a global system where the concept of humanitarian space is increasingly under attack.

Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to announce Susan Armstrong- Reid as the key-note speaker for the forthcoming Colloquium. Susan is Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Guelph, Ontario. In her research she seeks to progressively give voice to and interrogate nursing’s complex and contested contribution to global health and humanitarianism. Her most recent book, China Gadabouts: New Frontiers of Humanitarian Nursing, 1941–51 charts the experiences of western and Chinese nurses volunteering in this conflict. For the colloquium, her paper focuses on her current research regarding civilian nursing and medical aid in Vietnam, both the Quakers, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and Canadian nurses working for the Canadian International Development Agency under the Columbo Plan. This is the first substantive look at civilian humanitarian nursing during the Vietnam War, reflecting upon the professional and personal ethical challenges presented by the changing humanitarian landscape since 1945. We could not ask for a more relevant and thought-provoking opening to the colloquium which will be a springboard to the further papers; we hope that you are able to join us.

Provisional Programme

The provisional programme for the UKAHN Research Colloquium being held on Friday 5th July 2019 at the Friends’ Meeting House, Cirencester:

9.15: Registration and Coffee
9.45: Welcome : Dr Helen Sweet/ Wendy Lloyd-Sweet (2019 Convenors)

Session 1 Chair: Prof. Janet Hargreaves

10.00: Kate Docking: The varying actions of nurses in Ravensbrück concentration camp, 1939-1945.
10.30: Olga Travesset-Rey, Gloria Gallegos-Caminero, Carme Torres-Penella, Anna Ramiro-Jofre: Humanitarianism, Nursing and the Spanish Civil War (GCE).
11.00: Lea M. Williams Nursing the Community in the Work and Writings of Ellen N. La Motte


Session 2 Chair: Dr Sue Hawkins

11.50: Amanda Gwinnup: Nurses in Need of Care: British Nurses of the First World War and Their Dealings with the Ministry of
12:20: Prof. Janet Hargreaves: Death beautiful as sleep, death as ghastly as could be’: Molly Murphy in Spain and London.

Lunch and Poster and session: Teresa Doherty (RCN) Histories of Humanitarian Nursing: Tales from the RCN. Also opportunity to browse the second hand bookstall and enjoy the Meeting House and garden.

Session 3 Chair: Professor Anne Summers

13.55: Teresa Doherty – brief comment on poster session and relevance to DNB.
14.00 Keynote paper: Dr Susan Armstrong-Reid: “Rice Paddy Diplomacy, ‘Behead and Cure’:The Ethics of Civilian Nursing in the Vietnam War
15.00: Frances Cadd: Emissary Nurses? Avis Hutt: An Industrial Nurse’s Perspective on Chinese Health and Industry in 1955


Session 4 Chair: Professor Christine Hallett

15.50: Dr Barbra Mann Wall: Catholic Missionaries, Health Care and Conflict
16.20: Dr Carol Acton: ‘This is the nearest to Hell I have yet been’: constructing the nurse identity in the early months of the First World War
16.50: Prof. Alannah Tomkins: Waterloo, Brussels, and developments in humanitarian nursing.

17.20 Finish

Venue and Location

Cirencester Friends Meeting House

The Colloquium will be held at the Friends’ Meeting House, Cirencester, UK.  Cirencester is a small English country town with a history dating back to Roman times.  It has many historic tourist attractions, including a Roman Amphitheatre, and several beautifully-preserved medieval buildings, including the remains of a twelfth century hospital.  It also has excellent hotels and restaurants.

Travel and Accommodation

Cirencester can be reached by bus, direct from Heathrow Airport, or by train via London Oxford, or Birmingham. The railway station is three miles away at Kemble, and the last part of the journey is made by bus or taxi. For those travelling by car, there is limited, free, on-street parking, and a nearby reasonably-priced public car park. The town is a recognised tourist resort, and has several hotels and bed and breakfasts. The following are just a few of the options within walking distance of the venue: