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Date and time
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 16:00 to 17:30

About the Event

Dr Erin Spinney, Assistant Professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, Canada

When discussing his experiences onboard the Medusa hospital ship during the summer of 1797, then Physician to the Channel Fleet Thomas Trotter, regaled readers of his Medicina Nautica with the tale of an unnamed pregnant woman.  This woman, described only as the wife of a seamen stationed on La Pique, was, according to Trotter “in the eight month of pregnancy, subject to constant hysterics, and incessant retchings and vomiting (p. 26).”  In response Trotter “allowed [her] one of the nurse’s cabins, with suitable attendants (p.26-27).” This was the first mention of nurses on board Medusa in Trotter’s writing, but the casual nature of his reference to nurse’s cabins indicates that the presence of nurses was something that did not need explaining.  Rather, as in the onshore hospitals in Portsmouth and Plymouth, nurses and the nursing work they provided were an intrinsically important, if little remarked upon, part of medical care delivery in the Royal Navy.  Using hospital ship pay lists, muster records, medical treatises, and Sick and Hurt Board correspondence, this talk considers hospital ship nurses and the nursing work they performed during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Erin Spinney is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. She teaches British and European History with a focus on the history of medicine, environmental history, gender, and imperialism. She also specializes in teaching the history of Canadian nursing and healthcare to health sciences students, and co-teaches HEAL 1001, the foundation course in the Bachelor of Health at UNB Saint John. Dr. Spinney received her BA (Hons) in History (2010) and her MA in History (2011) from the University of New Brunswick. Her PhD was awarded by the University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Her PhD dissertation, “Naval and Military Nursing c. 1763-1830,” which examines the work of women nurses in the Royal Navy and British Army, won the American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN) Teresa Christy Research Award. From 2018-2019, Dr. Spinney held an AMS Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine (now called the Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology) at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Saint John she worked as an Assistant Professor (term) in the History Department at Mount Allison University (2019-2020), and as a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge where she taught online from 2020-2021. Dr. Spinney is currently the President of the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing (CAHN) and the webmaster for CAHN and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. She is also the Associate Book Review Editor for the Nursing History Review, the journal of the AAHN.

Host: Faculty of Health and Social Care Historical Society

This is a free online event and is open to everyone. It will be via Microsoft Teams Live and full joining instructions will be sent to everyone who registers. 

Please contact to confirm your place.