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Sisters in a distant land: The exploration of identity and travel through three New Zealand nurses’ diaries from the Great War

journal contribution
posted on 23.11.2021, 22:58 by Hannah ClarkHannah Clark
As historians we know very little about the experiences of New Zealand nurses during the Great War. The lack of understanding derives from the rarity of nurses in historiography, though recent attempts have been made to bring nurses into the Anzac national memory. The under-utilised diaries of Louisa Higginson, Mildred Salt, and Fanny Helena Speedy explore two aspects of significance – the shaping of their identity and the independence of travelling in a new environment. Through identity, the ‘colonial’ label is examined, with a difference between how the British viewed a ‘colonial’ and how the nurses perceived ‘colonial’, which runs alongside the difference in terminology used by the nurses when writing about the ‘natives’. Also embedded within identity is the evolution of gender from pre-war Victorian ideals to a new definition during the war. Independence through travel was emphasised in diary entries. Travelling nurses experienced both the ‘home’ culture of London and the exoticism of Egypt and the Middle East. Travel was also an escape mechanism, allowing the nurses a break from the hectic nature of ward work. By exploring these aspects through the experiences of three nurses, this article aims to give a broader understanding of what the almost 600 New Zealand nurses experienced during the Great War period.

History

Preferred citation

Clark, H. (n.d.). Sisters in a distant land: The exploration of identity and travel through three New Zealand nurses’ diaries from the Great War. Women's Studies Journal. http://www.wsanz.org.nz/journal/docs/WSJNZ301Clark17-29.pdf

Journal title

Women's Studies Journal

Publication status

Published online

Contribution type

Article

Online publication date

01/07/2016

ISSN

1173-6615

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