Who were the military nurses of the Great War, and what did they really do? In this lucid and cogently-argued book, Christine Hallett explores the nature of the practices developed by nurses and their volunteer-assistants during the First World War. She argues that nurses found meaning in their complex and stressful work by identifying it as a process of 'containing trauma'. Beginning with a discussion of the current literature on both the literature on the social and cultural position of nurses at the outbreak of the war, and on their importance to the war effort, the book explores a range of nursing scenarios and practices, examining the physical, emotional and spiritual care these women offered to their patients. Broad in its scope and detailed in its research, the book analyses the work of nurses from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United States of America. It draws on highly personal writings: letters and diaries drawn from Archives and libraries throughout the world. This wide-ranging book explores a range of treatment scenarios, from the Western and Eastern Fronts to the Eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia and India. It considers both the efforts of nurses to provide physical, emotional and moral containment to their patients, and the work they did to maintain their own physical and emotional integrity.
About the Author
Christine Hallett is Professor of Nursing History at the University of Manchester, and Director of the UK Centre for the History of Nursing and Midwifery.