Good Air and Bad Air: The Importance of Ventilation

Considered by many as the founder of modern nursing, British social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was one of the most well-known female voices on health care in the 19th century. In this blog entry, I outline what Florence Nightingale believed was the most important consideration of nursing – the ventilation and good air of a patient’s room – and will explore how this advice recurs and develops in the ensuing forty years in home advice manuals. … More Good Air and Bad Air: The Importance of Ventilation

Domestic Nursing: An Introduction to Maintaining the Sick-Room

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management: A Complete Cookery Book (1861) was perhaps the most well-known and referred-to home advice manual of its time. It was originally published in 24 separate parts from 1859 to 1861, and then compiled as a bound book in 1861, soon becoming a staple in most Victorian homes. … More Domestic Nursing: An Introduction to Maintaining the Sick-Room

Health Care in the Victorian Home

I am very excited to be able to research and share with you a topic I personally find fascinating – health in the Canadian home during the Victorian era. I will be using home advice manuals, written primarily by women authors, to explore how the day-to-day health of families did not primarily fall underneath the purview of the doctor or the midwife, but was left in the care of the mother of the home or the ‘Angel in the House’. … More Health Care in the Victorian Home

Would I Have Died? Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a historically feared phenomenon. Around 1200, the medieval philosopher Maimonides described the basic symptoms of pneumonia as “acute fever, sticking (pleuritic) pain in the side, short rapid breaths, serrated pulse and cough.” Even after Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory began to inform the treatment of bacterial diseases such as pneumonia in 1861, the illness continued in its infamy as treacherous. In 1918, William Osler proclaimed that pneumonia is “the captain of the men of death.” … More Would I Have Died? Pneumonia

Collections Corner: Playing Doctor

Most of us remember playing doctor or nurse to an injured doll or teddy bear. When I was a child my Cabbage Patch doll often fell ill and my sisters and I nursed her back to health using a Fisher-Price Medical Kit. Developed over thirty years ago, this toy has stood the test of time and has also evolved several times since its inception. The kit contains everything a young doctor or nurse needs, including a stethoscope, thermometer and a sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure cuff. These colourful children’s versions of the real instruments also helped my parents prepare me for trips to the paediatrician; I learned what to expect through play, which made check-ups and doctors visits much less stressful for all parties involved. … More Collections Corner: Playing Doctor