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Erin Spinney

Erin received her doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan in April 2018.  She is currently an AMS-funded postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford’s Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine.

She studies British military and naval nursing in the late-Hanoverian period.  In particular, she examines the use of civilian women as nurses in military and naval hospitals in this period based on their perceived gendered suitability for the work and how nursing became more medicalised over time.  She also considers the importance of cleanliness to preventative medicine, studies Plymouth Naval Hospital as a household structure using collective biography to track the careers of individual nurses, and studies the use of enslaved Afro-Caribbean women in West Indian naval hospitals.

Her postdoctoral research builds on my doctoral dissertation which examined British military and naval nursing between 1763 and 1820.   In order to better understand the spatial complexities of this naval system of care, I use the log books of hospital ships.  These log books kept by Lieutenants and Captains contain detailed information about patients received on board, medical supplies transported, and the daily location of the hospital ship while at sea.  Using longitude and latitude coordinates for hospital ships, I will map their location using Historical Geographic Systems (HGIS).  This will allow me to visually demonstrate a naval system of care, and highlight the connectivity of such a system.  In particular, this will showcase the role of hospitals in transferring medical supplies to the fleet and taking sick and wounded sailors back to shore for care in hospital.  Additionally, the work of nurses on board these ships will contribute to a broader contextualisation of the labour of civilian women to support the Royal Navy and British imperial aims.

Prior to moving to Saskatchewan she completed a MA in History at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton).  Her thesis, “British Military Medicine during the Long Eighteenth Century: A Relationship between Preventative and Reactionary Medicine, Supply, and Empire” was under the supervision of Dr. Wendy Churchill.  She also holds a BA Honours from the University of New Brunswick.

Erin is the website coordinator for the Canadian Association for the the History of Nursing, and is an editor for H-Envirohealth. You can find her on Twitter.

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