International Nursing History Conference 2010

One of the largest international conferences on the history of nursing was organised by the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences' Nurses' Voices team, in conjunction with the UK Centre for the History of Nursing and Midwifery at Manchester University, the Irish Society for Nursing and Midwifery History at University College Dublin, and the American Association for the History of Nursing.

Royal Holloway, University of LondonMore than 230 nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals, historians and experts from around the world attended the event at Royal Holloway, University of London on September 14-16 2010.

The aim of the conference, held in the International Year of the Nurse and timed to run alongside commemorative events to mark the centenary of the death of Florence Nightingale, was to showcase innovative and scholarly work on nursing history. It celebrated the profession and the contribution that nurses had made and continued to make to the development of healthcare across the world. It was an opportunity to reflect on the history of nursing - how the profession has been shaped and what can be taken into the future.

Keynote speaker, author Mark BostridgeConference highlights included a keynote presentation by Mark Bostridge, author of ‘Florence Nightingale: The Woman and Her Legend’, the first major biography of the nursing pioneer in nearly half a century, on ‘A Florence Nightingale for the Twenty-First Century‘.

Florence NightingaleNightingale, who set up the world’s first secular nursing school in 1860, is generally seen as the founder of modern nursing. She died aged 90 on 13 August 1910 at her home in Park Lane, London. The importance of her work was reflected in a debate lead by Anne Marie Rafferty, Head of the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, Kings College London, on the Nightingale system of training and its influence on nursing in the late nineteenth century. Speakers included Carol Helmstadter, a retired neurosurgical nurse from Toronto, Canada; Barbra Mann Wall, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania; and Judith Godden, a historian from the University of Sydney.

Kingston University’s Dr Sue Hawkins A workshop led by Kingston University’s Dr Sue Hawkins used case studies to show how databases and official records can be used to reconstruct the lives of nurses and hospitalised children in the nineteenth century, while other sessions included historical takes on a range of subjects including childhood diabetes, the care of brain injuries, nursing older people, massage, nurses on film and on stage, and the experiences of US military nurses in Afghanistan.

President of the Royal College of Nursing UK, Moira BuchananAwards for historical nursing scholarship were presented. The Monica Baly award, which funds projects into the history of nursing and midwifery or health visiting, was presented by Moira Buchanan, President of the Royal College of Nursing UK.

Conference organiser Carol McCubbin with statue and lace of Florence Nightingale'sOther events included an evensong service at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate Florence Nightingale’s life and work and a reception in the newly-refurbished Florence Nightingale Museum at St Guts' and St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. There were also various book launches and a spectacular conference dinner, all of which provided an environment for sharing ideas and information among colleagues from academic and professional institutions from around the world.