Care Work and Nursing in Royal Greenwich Hospital, 1705-1714
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This thesis is an analysis of the changes in the nursing profession in naval health provision in Britain in the early eighteenth century. In particular, it examines the experiences of nurses who cared for disabled ex-servicemen in Greenwich, a hospital for former sailors, in the early eighteenth century. Early modern naval nursing developed out of complex intersections of gendered ideas about care work, contemporary anxiety about order and health, and out of the need for naval administrators to regulate and better supervise nurses’ labour. These in turn created a role for the nurses inside the hospital that was often contradictory. Nurses were valuable staff who were relied upon to keep order and keep pensioners healthy. They were also seen to be a potential source of disorder. Orders and regulations that were created for the nurses were intended to ensure that not only their work but also their conduct adhered to a vision of good order. These nurses worked in a kind of regulated household where they could be overseen to ensure that their work was done in an organized and orderly manner. Early modern conception of order shaped concerns about naval care work and nursing. Thus, the influence of the household, the central social and economic unit in early modern England and the foundation of social and political order, was essential in the way that nursing was administered inside the hospital. The Greenwich hospital records give us rare glimpses into these experiences of women in an early modern institution and give us insight into the lives of women who are otherwise absent from the pages of nursing history. Although the nurses of Greenwich are only a small part of the history of nursing in the early modern period, they remind us that hospital records can be rich with information and evidence that uncovers the role of nurses from pages of history. They also remind us that nurses worked and were valued for the care that they provided centuries before Nightingale’s reforms.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeDyck, Erika; Wright, Sharon; Foley, Kelly; Keyworth, George
Copyright DateJanuary 2019