On May 17, 2014, the Consortium and the BC History of Nursing Society co-hosted Dr. Margaret Scaia (University of Victoria) at the annual BC History of Nursing Society Luncheon. Dr. Scaia presented from her PhD dissertation work: Working Professionalism: Nursing in Calgary and Vancouver 1958 to 1977.

Changes in women’s relationship to caring labour, and changes in societal attitudes towards women as nurses during the period when they became union members and aspiring professionals, are revealed in thirty-seven oral history interviews with women who became nurses between 1958, a pivotal time in the development of the publicly funded health care system, and 1977, when the last residential school of nursing closed in Calgary. This study challenges the historiography that suggests that nursing education programs in the 1960s and early 1970s were sites of unusual social regulation, and that nursing was a career choice that women made because of the lack of other more challenging or rewarding alternatives. In making these claims

Dr. Scaia positions nursing and nursing education, instead, as a form of women’s labour that exemplified employed women’s struggles to promote fairer wages, better working conditions, and as an educational opportunity that opened unusual and largely unavailable opportunities for access to higher education for women and career advancement.

This challenge to the prevailing historiography of nursing and nursing education during this period establishes the main thesis of her presentation, based on my recently completed doctoral dissertation. Dr. Scaia acknowledges her supervisors Dr. ME Purkis, Dr. L. Marks, & Dr. A. Lepp, and funding support from SSHRC Bombardier Scholarship. This talk was held at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club.  

Selected Works Available at UBC

Scaia, M. and McPherson, K. Challenges and change in undergraduate nursing education. In M. McIntyre and C. McDonald (Eds.). Realities of Canadian Nursing: Professional, Practice and Power Issues (3rd edition, pp.183-202). (New York NY: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2010 and 2013). [Link]

Boschma, G., Scaia, M., Bonifacio, N. and Roberts, E., Oral history research. In S.B. Lewenson and E.K. Herrmann (Eds.). Capturing Nursing History: A Guide to Historical Methods in Research (pp.79-98). (New York NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2008). [Link]

Scaia, MargaretUnderstanding the experience of adolescent motherhood, 1939-2001. (Ottawa: National Library of Canada, Bibliothèque nationale du Canada, 2004). [Link]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJacky Lai, Archives and Circulation Assistant, was thrilled by an opportunity to work on the outstanding Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. Lai, who has worked at multiple Library branches as a student worker and then staff member, is responsible for developing and maintaining an inventory of the collection. He is also heavily involved in processing albums in the collection – stabilizing and cleaning pages, and ensuring that the collection meets the Library’s preservation standards.

Several weeks ago, Lai was explaining his role to Langmann family members. “They were surprised to find out my ‘special’ cleaning tool is a simple eraser. They saw a before-and-after shot of one album page and were blown away by the power of an eraser!”

After meeting Uno Langmann in person for the first time, Lai was captivated to hear the famed art collector speak passionately about what the collection means to him. “I think it’s very important to understand the meaning behind our work,” says Lai.

As he continues his processing and preservation efforts, Lai looks forward to enhancing the accessibility of this special collection for the public. Select items in the Langmann Collection will be available digitally this summer – Library users can also visit Rare Books & Special Collections to see the photos in person.

“We have regular visits from researchers around the globe who use our collections for their research. The Langmann collection is a very good example of how the Library continues to strengthen its community engagement efforts – we already have classes scheduled for students in the upcoming fall/winter terms to use the collection!”

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