Notre directrice Marie-Claude Thifault vient de publier un article dans Recherche en soins infirmiers intitulé « Un malaise flou en héritage : la construction du savoir infirmier enseigné au Québec ». Elle y aborde l’oubli de l’héritage franco-catholique dans l’enseignement de l’histoire soins infirmiers au Québec et milite pour la reconnaissance de leurs importants apports dans l’histoire des soins de santé canadiens.
. L’article est accessible (derrière un paywall) ici :
When I was asked to write about Dr. Jayne Elliott’s contributions to the history of nursing and the Nursing History Research Unit (NHRU) at the University of Ottawa, I was honored to be given the opportunity. Over the last fifteen years, I have had the privilege of working with Jayne in a number of capacities: as co-editor in Chief of the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History from 2011 to 2015, on various committees for both the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing, and in relation to the NHRU. During this period, I learned a great deal from Jayne (unfortunately, not her organizational acumen), and I came to consider her a close friend and mentor. Jayne serves as an exemplar of kindness and generosity towards junior scholars and students that I always strive to emulate. Indeed, all the women at the NHRU were incredibly supportive and provided me with a model of collegiality that, to this day, I endeavor to follow. I am eternally grateful for the support and encouragement that I received from the NHRU, first as a graduate student and later as a faculty member. For many of us, the NHRU and the amazing women that worked there, provided a feminist network of support and engagement with nursing history that was unavailable elsewhere. For this we are deeply appreciative.
Like many historians of nursing, Jayne began her career as a practicing nurse. She graduated from the Atkinson School of Nursing at the Toronto Western Hospital and worked in hospitals in Toronto, Kingston, and Yellowknife. While Jayne’s nursing career ended in Winnipeg as her family grew, she returned to university following their move to Ottawa. Although Jayne did not intend to become a historian of nursing when she began her PhD in history in 1997, she described her shift to focus on Red Cross outpost nurses as “feeling like she had come home.” Jayne’s scholarship makes important contributions to the field. Her work on Red Cross nursing stations and small hospitals in Ontario, one of which she had even worked at as part of her nursing training, encourages historians to consider the role that space plays outside of hospital settings and the multiple and shifting identities that nurses occupy. Indeed, Jayne suggests that at times nursing offered women who did not want to live conventional lives the opportunity to do so, especially in small and rural communities. Jayne’s scholarship illuminates the links between the architecture of nursing outposts and the social and professional lives of the nurses who worked there. The ways in which the space of nursing stations was structured both informed and reflected contemporary public health practices but also limited and made more public the private lives of nurses in rural and northern regions. While working at nursing stations may have made it possible for women to avoid marriage and access resources unavailable to them in large cities, the domestic space of nurses’ homes frequently became enfolded into the curative work of the nursing station. This work serves as an important addition to understanding the breadth and scope of women’s healing work as both separate from and part of their professional identities.
Any tribute to Jayne must also include a discussion of her work with the NHRU. Before proceeding, however, and in order to ensure I got the details correct and that they properly reflected how Jayne felt about her work, it was important for me to have a conversation with her. Typical of Jayne’s self-effacing nature, she agreed to participate only if any discussion of the NHRU acknowledged the founding and guiding work of both Drs. Meryn Stuart and Cynthia Toman. In particular, she wanted it noted that one of the primary goals of the NHRU had been to bring together people who had formerly worked in isolation as a community to study the history of nursing.
Under the leadership of Dr. Meryn Stuart the NHRU was established in June 2005. Shortly thereafter, Jayne was brought in to help see the vision of the unit’s co-founders brought to fruition. As the Unit’s first administrator, Jayne was involved in a broad range of projects. This summer I spoke to Jayne about her work with the NHRU and I have included excerpts from our conversation below that best reflect how she both perceived her role with the Unit and the value she believed the unit contributed to the history of nursing specifically and medical history more generally:
What did you value most about working with the NHRU?
Probably the greatest highlight was the opportunity to create something new, to shape the direction of the unit, get it off the ground. The work was so varied and especially in the first three years, we were working to fulfil all the activities Cynthia and Meryn had written into the proposal. We [Meryn, Cynthia, and Jayne] all got along well so that made coming to work fun and we made a good team. Things like designing the website and the brochure, etc., allowed me to be creative, and I got to do so many different things that I had never done before.
The opportunity to work with students was wonderful. I never wanted to teach with my PhD but I enjoyed one-on-one with students. Perhaps the most satisfying experience was working with German nursing student, Jette Lange, who started out several years ago as a summer intern for Dr. Thomas Foth, while she was finishing her Masters. Now she has completed her PhD.
What do you think is the Unit’s greatest legacy?
I really think the support the unit has been able to give to all kinds of students interested in doing or learning about nursing history – undergraduates to graduates, especially nursing students but also those in the interdisciplinary health stream, as well as history students. Student support has been one of the strongest mandates of the Unit over the years, and now with Marie-Claude [Thifault] as director, Francophone students have had even more opportunities.
There are several other « units » in the nursing school but the NHRU was the most active unit in the nursing school and for awhile, the Unit ran 6 or 7 seminars yearly to which any student could present or attend. Sometimes students not affiliated with the unit presented their work.
During her tenure at the Unit, Jayne worked on many projects that contributed both to the scholarship of nursing history and built capacity for historical research outside of the discipline. A Hannah conference, held to inaugurate the establishment of the Unit, led to the publication of Place and Practice in Canadian Nursing History. Co-edited by Jayne, Meryn, and Cynthia the collection complicated the contexts in which nurses worked and the range of healing work that women performed. Jayne’s article in this collection looked at the letters of Louise de Kiriline, a Red Cross outpost nurse in northern Ontario, better known for her work with the Dionne Quintuplets. Her examination of de Kiriline’s letters reminded nursing historians to look beyond nursing work and “to pay attention to what identities beyond that of their professional identity nurses considered important.” Jayne also supervised and contributed to a volume on the history of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) that was developed for its 100th anniversary and is available as an e-book on the CNA website. In 2011, the Unit held a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded conference entitled “Telling Tales,” which brought together graduate students working on the histories of nursing and healing to help them develop their publication profile. The NHRU also worked to engage non-historian nurses in nursing history through the organization of summer research practicums, annual spring lectures, a workshop on nursing films, and an annual nursing history week contest that was held during Nurses week.
Jayne’s contributions to the history of medicine go far beyond her scholarship. Jayne has mentored undergraduate and graduate students, as well as offered support and advice for many junior faculty and burgeoning scholars in the history of medicine. My fondest memories of Jayne are the conversations we had when we co-edited the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History. Although we talked about journal business, these discussions also allowed me the opportunity to get to know Jayne. She was generous with her time and support, and was instrumental at helping me to complete the final revisions on my first monograph. At that time I had also just become a single parent, and Jayne regularly helped me figure things out. Nor am I the only person who benefited from Jayne’s support and scholarly expertise; there are many of us who owe Jayne a debt of gratitude for reading and commenting on our work. Indeed, I would argue that one of Jayne’s most invaluable contributions to the discipline is her time, patience, and expertise that she generously made available to others. Thank you.
Kristin Burnett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University. She did her BA and MA in History at the University of Calgary and completed her PhD at York University in 2006. Following a brief stint as a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta, Burnett came to work at Lakehead University in the Department of History in January of 2007 before transferring to the Department of Indigenous Learning in August of 2012.
Burnett’s research interests can broadly be defined as: Indigenous history, race and colonization, settler studies, women and gender history, the social history of health and medicine, and western Canadian history. She has published articles on Indigenous women’s healing practices, focusing specifically on childbirth and birth control; the genesis of colonial health care regimes in Treaty 7 communities; and representations of Native Americans in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. Her current research projects investigate the relationship between health, race, and settlement in western Canada and food sovereignty and colonialism in northern First Nations communities.
Dr. Cynthia Toman began her working life as a Registered Nurse and concluded it as Canada’s pre-eminent historian of military nursing. I had the pleasure of a close association with her over two years near the end of her career (2007-2009), when she supervised my postdoctoral fellowship in affiliation with the University of Ottawa’s Nursing History Research Unit. As a postdoctoral supervisor she modelled many approaches that I subsequently strove to emulate in my dealings with students and younger colleagues in a variety of academic and professional settings. She was generous with her time and energy when it came to offering advice, feedback, and support, and managed to be kind, funny, and sympathetic while also maintaining an appropriately professional distance. (This is no surprise, really, since these are also the qualities of a good nurse!) Cynthia modelled collegiality by treating me with the respect due to a peer (albeit one in training) and taking an interest in my work, while expecting the same in return. She connected me with all kinds of professional development opportunities and encouraged me to say “yes” when chances to publish or give talks came my way, but also encouraged me to maintain a life outside of the academy and to vigilantly patrol its boundaries. I grew from a timid PhD graduate to an increasingly confident junior scholar and university teacher under her upbeat, encouraging brand of mentoring, which was just what I needed at the time. She has remained a supportive colleague and friend ever since.
Dr. Toman’s two monographs, dealing respectively with First World War and Second World War Canadian military nurses, instantly became authoritative go-to resources on those topics. They continue to be invaluable assets to students, scholars, and the wider public seeking to understand both military health care provision and women’s experiences of the two world wars in a Canadian context. The quality of her historical work – not only these monographs but also a host of journal articles and book chapters – is attested to by the awards it has garnered, including the Governor General’s Gold Medal for her PhD dissertation at the University of Ottawa in 2003, the Teresa E. Christy Distinguished Writing Award given by the American Association for the History of Nursing in 2004, and the Canadian Committee on Women’s History’s Hilda B. Neatby Award for best English-language article in 2008.
Beyond her obvious interest in wartime military nursing, Toman’s historical research interests encompass the nitty-gritty details of nursing practice, nursing workforce issues, and medical technologies as they relate to nursing (including blood transfusion, delegated medical acts, and scientific management and efficiency in nursing contexts). Yet she has been equally intrigued by the ways that society and culture affect the lived experiences of nurses and the evolution of nursing as a profession. The result is a body of work that brings to life not only what it was like to do nursing work in a given place and time, but also what it meant to be a nurse and how “nurse” as a professional identity intersected with other markers of identity such as gender, class, race, and nationality. Reviewers repeatedly employ words such as “painstaking,” “meticulous,” “rigorous,” “complex,” and “diligent” to describe the archival research that undergirds her work, while equally singing the praises of her writing skills, calling her work “nuanced,” “engaging,” “sensitive,” “moving,” and “compelling.” These twin strengths, when added to the truly pioneering and significant nature of her subjects, will ensure that her published work continues to be read, enjoyed, and cited for many years to come.
“Historian” is only one of many hats Toman has worn along the course of her career path. Before becoming a historian and university professor, she worked at various points as a critical care nurse, cardiovascular nurse, community nurse (including time spent nursing in Puerto Rico in affiliation with the US Office of Economic Opportunity), camp nurse, and clinical trial research coordinator. She was also actively involved in nursing research before she turned to history, pursuing interests in patient education, heart failure education and counselling, continuity of care, and activity progression post-Myocardial Infarction. Without question, Toman’s years of front-line nursing have given her special insights into the historical nurses who later became the subjects of her research: she knows firsthand that nursing can be not only rewarding and meaningful but also dirty, exhausting (both emotionally and physically), and frustrating. These experiences clearly shape her portrayals of the military nurses whom contemporary (and subsequent) authors have tended to depict as one-dimensional angels or heroines. Toman’s nurses get angry, get messy, have fun, and break rules. They also work incredibly hard and take pride in their nursing skills.
During her years with the NHRU Toman’s ability to connect personal experience of nursing with the questions posed about historical nursing made her an effective teacher of student nurses and nursing professionals. While keen to encourage anyone with an interest in nursing history, Toman nevertheless had a special affinity for teaching and mentoring new nurse-historians, and devoted significant time and energy to developing nursing history courses and practicum opportunities that would help them develop their historical interest and archival research skills. Her students at the University of Ottawa, where she taught in the School of Nursing and held a cross-appointment in the Department of History, as well as those who came into her orbit through conferences, practicums, and other means, reaped the benefits.
As a teacher and mentor, as a scholarly historian, and as a co-founder and director of the Nursing History Research Unit at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Cynthia Toman raised the bar for both nurse-historians and historians of nursing in Canada. That she did so while remaining a humble, hard-working, genuinely likeable human being with a fun sense of humour is all the more remarkable. I admire her greatly.
Dr. Sarah Glassford is Archivist and Librarian at the Rare Books & Special Collections of the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor.
To fully-fledged historians of nursing as well as to nurses interested in their history, Meryn Stuart is recognized as a pioneer in the development of nursing history in Canada. Over the course of her academic career of twenty-plus years, she held onto her vision of what an understanding of nursing history could mean to current issues facing nurses and nursing, as well as to what it could contribute to the history of women, medicine, and healthcare in general. It was through her advocacy and strong-willed desire that the Nursing History Research Unit came about, and she worked with Associated Medical Services (AMS) to establish it as the first academic unit dedicated to the study of nursing and healthcare in Canada. In 2008 she was honoured by the Canadian Nurses Association with a Centennial Award that recognized the positive impact of her work on the profession.
Meryn left her career as a public health nurse in the 1980s to undertake her doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania under well-known historian Charles Rosenberg. There, she developed strong friendships with other nurse historians who helped nurture her own interests and later facilitated international linkages among other historians in the same field. Meryn re-joined the faculty of the School of Nursing on her return but also took on the task of Associate Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies from 2001-2003. There she managed its graduate program and honed her skills in feminist collaboration that resulted in several publications with others.
Meryn grounded her early research in what she knew best – a history of public health nursing in early 20th century Ontario. The articles that came out of her thesis ‒ Ideology and Experience: Public Health Nursing and the Ontario Child Welfare Project, 1920-25 and Shifting Professional Boundaries: Gender Conflict in Public Health, 1920-1925 – remain classics in the field and paved the way for a feminist analysis of nursing work. Other publications followed as she pursued research interests in the history of nursing education and military nursing.
From her position as Associate Professor, Meryn was a forceful, tireless and politically astute advocate for the history of nursing. She was successful in her struggle to have a history option included in the graduate nursing program at U of O. She mentored graduate students indicating an interest in including nursing history in their theses – no easy task as most had not had any training in historical research. She had been a founding member of the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing, and now encouraged students to present their work at annual conferences and to apply for scholarships the association offered. She continued to collaborate generously with other scholars both inside and outside the field of nursing.
Some might say that the stars lined up in order for the Unit to come into existence ‒ and it is true that Bill Seidelman, CEO of AMS at that time, was a huge supporter of nursing history. But it was Meryn who laid the groundwork, working hard to convince AMS board members of the importance of understanding the history behind current issues affecting nursing. In her June 2004 presentation to them she effectively demonstrated how knowledge of the history of nursing education contributed to a greater understanding of the issues facing nursing leaders as the nursing curriculum moved into the universities. Meryn recruited Cynthia, one of her graduate students, and together they developed a wide-ranging proposal for the Unit, identifying the four pillars of research, education, publications, and outreach that are still relevant today. She fought strenuously – and successfully ‒ for a full-time research associate position to support the development and operation of the Unit. She insisted on the university matching the endowment portion of the AMS grant and this wise decision has secured financial stability for the Unit. Immediately recognizing that bringing Marie-Claude into the Unit would greatly help to bridge the great divide that existed between Anglophone and Francophone historians, she facilitated her entry as a faculty member. In short, the guidance that Meryn provided as the first Director of the Unit has ensured a strong foundation on which current members can continue to build.
The former administrator of the NHRU, Jayne Elliott now holds the position of senior research member and adjunct professor in the Unit. Her doctoral research investigated the history of the Red Cross outpost hospitals in Ontario, and subsequent research interests focused on the history of rural hospitals and rural and remote nursing. She is currently exploring the experiences of physicians who cared for Canadian troops in Germany during the early Cold War period.
Cynthia Toman is a retired associate professor from the School of Nursing of the University of Ottawa. Her research focused on the history of First and Second World War nurses.
I arrived at what was then the Associated Medical Services (AMS) Nursing History Research Unit (NHRU) in July 2007 fresh from my PhD defence, as its first (I think?) postdoctoral fellow. At only two years old, the NHRU was still in its infancy at that time. I had only a passing acquaintance with the History of Nursing and History of Medicine scholarly communities, and no nurse training, so I was not sure what to expect from a history cluster in a School of Nursing. Coming from an Arts and Humanities background it was odd to know I would have an office down the hall from rooms where student nurses learned practical skills, in a building attached to a large hospital complex. A member of my doctoral committee and a couple of PhD peers, however, assured me that I would be in very good hands, and my email contact with the unit through the SSHRC application process was friendly and encouraging. The NHRU turned out to be a great little outpost of history in a sea of health sciences, and a wonderfully supportive context in which to make the transition from student to professional.
Upon finally meeting unit co-founders and nurse-historians Dr. Meryn Stuart, Dr. Jayne Elliott, and Dr. Cynthia Toman in the unit’s little pod of offices in the Roger Guindon building (*I’m not sure I could successfully navigate its confusing corridors and stairwells anymore!), my initial impressions were of a diverse set of personalities: blunt, suffer-no-fools Meryn; soft-spoken Cynthia; briskly efficient Jayne. I wasn’t entirely wrong but, as usual, first impressions revealed only a small part of the larger picture. I soon realized this tight-knit trio had honed their effectiveness as a team to the point where they seemed to have their own short-hand in conversation and email. I later learned that this nuanced understanding of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and approaches had emerged in part through the hard work of establishing a strong nursing history presence at the University of Ottawa and securing funding from AMS and the university to create the NHRU. There must have been occasional tensions or disagreements between the three of them, given that they worked so closely together, but if so these incidents never seemed to interrupt the smooth flow of the unit’s daily life.
By the time I arrived, Meryn, Cynthia, and Jayne were proud of what they had already accomplished in the unit’s first two years and had at least half a dozen projects on the go – but since all three of them were nearing retirement age, they were also thinking ahead to the future of the unit and the legacy they would leave. The addition of Marie-Claude Thifault to the ranks of nurse-historians in the School of Nursing was an important step already taken in this direction, securing both a smooth leadership transition as well as a stronger French-language basis for the bilingual unit. During my two years in the unit I watched Meryn, Cynthia, Jayne, and Marie-Claude focus on attracting graduate students, developing innovative courses and methods of course delivery, securing other postdoctoral fellows, and making connections with scholars in other disciplines at the university whose research revolved around the history of health and health care. All of this was done in addition to their various regular teaching, research, service, and/or administrative responsibilities. Perhaps it was simply a shared sense that the unit had to prove itself in its early days to justify its funding and/or ongoing university support, but I think the high degree of productivity was also a shared personal characteristic of these four scholars. They were people who got things done.
By the time my fellowship ended it was clear to me that the creation of the unit by the three founders was not a move to garner prestige or monopolize scarce resources, but rather the result of a real passion for grounding student nurses and the nursing profession in a sense of the past, while at the same time enriching the study of history by using nursing as a window into the histories of women, labour, health care, and society. The degree to which the NHRU has continued to grow and thrive since the departure of its three founders is therefore, in my opinion, a testament not only to the impressive efforts of their successors, but also to the solid groundwork the founders established. Meryn Stuart, Cynthia Toman, and Jayne Elliott conceived of a Nursing History Research Unit that would benefit not only themselves and their students, but also those who would follow them, and indeed the nursing profession at large – and they did all they could to build it that way.
Dr. Sarah Glassford is Archivist and Librarian at the Rare Books & Special Collections of the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor.
Créée en 2005, l’Unité de recherche sur l’histoire du nursing fête cette année ses 15 ans. À cette occasion, nous avons voulu célébrer les femmes qui ont contribué à sa création puis à son développement. Pour ce faire, nous publierons régulièrement, au cours des prochaines semaines, des textes d’hommage à nos fondatrices, Meryn Stuart, Cynthia Toman et Jayne Elliott, rédigés par d’ancien.ne.s membres ou des ami.e.s proches de l’Unité.
Created in 2005, the Nursing History Research Unit is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. On this occasion, we wanted to celebrate the women who contributed to its creation and then to its development. To do this, we will regularly publish, over the next few weeks, tribute texts to our founders, Meryn Stuart, Cynthia Toman and Jayne Elliott, written by former members or close friends of the Unit.
Le 10 novembre prochain, notre directrice Marie-Claude Thifault participera à une table-ronde sur le modèle québécois de prise en charge des personnes âgées.
Après les fous crient au secours (1961)… les vieux appellent à l’aide humanitaire (2020) : des ratées pour le modèle québécois ?
10 Novembre 2020
11:00 – 12:30 HNE
À propos de cet événement
Cette table ronde propose un point de vue interdisciplinaire sur les négligences révélées à l’égard de nos aînés. La pandémie qui a été particulièrement meurtrière dans les CHSLD a provoqué du même souffle un constat et l’émergence de réflexions multiples sur la place qu’occupent les personnes âgées au sein de la société. Des perspectives du point de vue de la psychologie, de la sociologie et de l’histoire seront abordées pour réfléchir ensemble sur les enjeux de société entourant le vieillissement de la population et les structures de soins pour les personnes du quatrième âge.
Martine Lagacé : Le narratif de la vulnérabilité en temps de Covid-19 : entre abandon et protection des personnes aînées
Martin Meunier : Rapport aux aînés, rapport au passé? La crise des CHSLD comme révélateur de l’état de la société québécoise?
Marie-Claude Thifault : En temps de pandémie : la création d’un espace-récit
Toutes les propositions du concours de photovoix (incluant les deux gagnantes) qui avait été organisé dans le cadre du congrès, malheureusement annulé, de l’Association canadienne pour l’histoire du nursing, peuvent désormais être visionnées ici :
All the propositions made for the photovoice contest (including the two winners), originally organized for the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing annual meeting that was cancelled, can be seen here:
Le CHRS organise une rencontre avec notre membre Isabelle Perreault le mercredi le 11 novembre 2020 à 12h sur Zoom à destination de ses étudiant.e.s.
Sujet : Discussion autour des archives sensibles Invitée : Isabelle Perreault, membre régulière au CHRS et professeure au département de criminologie de l’Université d’Ottawa
Cette discussion avec Isabelle portera sur les archives « sensibles ». Depuis près de 20 ans, elle travaille à partir de dossiers psychiatriques, d’enquêtes du coroner et de décisions judiciaires. Cette rencontre sera l’occasion de discuter des enjeux méthodologiques et éthiques lorsqu’on récolte, analyse et diffuse des résultats de recherche à partir de dossiers nominatifs, de traces visuelles et de correspondances personnelles. Bref, à partir de ses projets et de vos projets de recherche respectifs, cette rencontre donnera lieu à des échanges et alimentera des réflexions sur les manières de (re)donner la parole aux personnes qui se sont suicidées, qui ont été psychiatrisées et institutionnalisées ou encore marginalisées et/ou criminalisées.
Si vous êtes intéressé.e par cette activité, communiquez avec firstname.lastname@example.org pour vous inscrire, elle vous enverra un lien zoom quelques jours avant la rencontre.
L’équipe du Centre d’Histoire des Régulations Sociales vient de faire paraitre un ouvrage collectif sur la dimension politique des régulations sociales du XIXe au XXI siècles, intitulé Question sociale et citoyenneté. Notre directrice Marie-Claude Thifault y signe un article sur les malades psychiatriques francophones comme citoyens de « seconde classe ». Les détails de cette partuion sont à découvrir sur le site de l’éditeur.