Finding "Miss Canada"
The Experiences of Canadian Professional Nurses in the First World War
During the First World War, many Canadian women served on the front lines as nurses, both as working professionals and volunteers. Although the experiences of Canadian women during WWI have been addressed by historians more frequently in recent decades, the experience of professional nurses has been overshadowed by that of Volunteer Aid Detachment nurses (VADs) and women on the home front and of course by studies on soldiers’ experiences. Many historians have found the personal narrative, diary, or journal to be an invaluable source to understanding the First World War. However, there is a gap in the study of the personal narratives, diaries, and journals of Canadian professional nurses specifically. This paper seeks to bridge this gap in WWI history through a specific focus on a selection of the surviving personal papers of Canadian professional nurses. Their personal writings reveal new insights into nursing experience on the front, nursing work, and how Canadian professional nurses sought and found meaning in extraordinary and violent circumstances. They made sense of the war through sociability, relationality, and through recording their time overseas both to cope with the experience itself, and to remember it upon their return home.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Madalyn Mandziuk
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