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‘The Girls Who Work and Strain’: Female Caregivers and Disciplinarians in First World War Britain

Hospitals in Britain were full of women. Though we most often remember them as nurses and VADs, many worked as masseuses and doctors, or spent time and money volunteering to care for wounded soldiers. Drawing on first-hand accounts from the men and women in the hospital, this talk explores the relationships they created.

It challenges the reality of propagandistic representations of the hospital. Though state endorsed messages suggested that soldiers formed maternal bonds with their nurses, evidence of romantic, and sometimes violent interactions exist. Instead of adhering to the maternal trope, some women challenged Edwardian gender roles through disciplining and regulating the bodies of wounded men.

Dr Jack Davies completed his PhD at the University of Kent in January 2017. His thesis examined the use of stately homes as hospitals during the First World War.

DISCOVER FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE MUSEUM

WHO WAS THE REAL LADY WITH THE LAMP?

Travel through three pavilions to relive Florence’s childhood, understand her experiences in the Crimean War and discover how she pioneered modern nursing practice. Her story is brought to life through unique collections, interactive displays and art installations

Located within St Thomas’ Hospital, just off Westminster Bridge, the museum was opened in 1989 and now forms a key part of London’s medical heritage. The collection consists of personal material associated with Florence Nightingale, items relating to the Crimean War and nursing artefacts. The museum archives include approximately 800 letters from Florence Nightingale and an important rare book collection of 284 titles.

WhereIs It?

Florence Nightingale Museum

 St Thomas’ Hospital, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7EW