‘The First World War: Nursing’ A report from the front line of the Women’s History Network Midlands Region Conference

This year’s Women’s History Network Midlands Region Conference entitled ‘The First World War: Nursing’ took place at the University of Worcester (City Campus) on Saturday, 21 November 2015.

A group photograph showing Nurse Edith Cavell (seated centre) with a group of her multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels’. © IWM (Q 70204)

A group photograph showing Nurse Edith Cavell (seated centre) with a group of her multinational student nurses whom she trained in Brussels’. © IWM (Q 70204)

In combination with a wide and varied programme, we received a keynote address from Prof Christine E. Hallett, The University of Manchester: ‘Le Petit Paradis des Blessés: Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front (1915-1918)’.

Prof Christine E. Hallett, The University of Manchester speaking about ‘Le Petit Paradis des Blessés': Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front (1915-1918)

Prof Christine E. Hallett, The University of Manchester speaking about ‘Le Petit Paradis des Blessés’: Nurses, Nursing and Internationalism on the Western Front (1915-1918)

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The remainder of the morning was given to a series of papers reflecting on the subsequent political and literary representations of the execution of the English nurse, Edith Cavell, by the Germans in Belgium in 1915. The speakers were Professor Alison S. Fell, University of Leeds; Professor Jean Webb, University of Worcester and Steven Moralees of the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.

Three panels were held in the afternoon: V.A.D. [Voluntary Aid Detachment] Nurses, Nursing in Europe and Trauma, Death and Therapy. Details of the speakers and their papers can be found in this pdf: WHNConf-November2015-Final

It was an absolutely exhilarating day – roomfuls of Women’s history academics generously sharing their research with each other and supporting independent researchers like myself to find out more about the hidden stories of women’s work during the First World War.   Please forgive my indulgence in storing my tweets here – I wanted to set up a Storify, but find myself mysteriously locked out from paradise. Whilst I debate my social media manners with the app moderators, I’ve gathered the commentary from the day here. As you’ll gather from my tweets, I attended Panel 3: Trauma, Death and Therapy.

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Edith Cavell and her dog. After her death, 'Jack' was adopted by Princess Mary de Croy. He died in 1923, and his stuffed remains can be seen in the Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas' Hospital, London. (IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30083371)

Edith Cavell and her dog. After her death, ‘Jack’ was adopted by Princess Mary de Croy. He died in 1923, and his stuffed remains can be seen in the Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas’ Hospital, London. (IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30083371)

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