Nursing History Symposium 2020

Nursing History Symposium delayed until further notice

Due to COVID-19 and the UBC and School of Nursing’s public health safety measures in response, the Nursing History Symposium has been delayed until further notice. We will provide updates as new information becomes available. Detailed information on COVID-19 and UBC’s response can be found at:



Nursing Artifacts and Nurses’ Uniforms: Preserving Nurses’ Cultural History

A Symposium in Honor of the BC History of Nursing Society’s 30th Anniversary

Date: 30 Apr 2020

Presented by: Keynote Speaker: Christina Bates, former curator of the Canadian Museum of History and author of A Cultural History of the Nurse’s Uniform

Room: Cecil Green Park House, 6251 Green Park Road, UBC Vancouver

Time: 9:30am – 2pm

Please register by Monday, April 27, 2020: Regular $10 Student and Retirees $5 (If you require assistance in registering, please contact 604.822.7747)

RSVP and Registration

Schedule of Events

09:30: Registration & Refreshments

10:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks by

  • Kathy Murphy, President, BC History of Nursing Society
  • Geertje Boschma, Professor, UBC School of Nursing

10:00: Keynote Address by Christina (Tina) Bates, former curator of the Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa

          “Nursing History Embodied: Collecting and Researching a Uniform Collection”

  • Tina Bates will present the Canadian History Collection of 1,800 artifacts, with a focus on its 52 uniforms from nursing schools across Canada. She will demonstrate material culture methods that can tease out meaning from artifacts. Based on her book, A Cultural History of the Nurse’s Uniform, she will examine the role of the uniform in creating nursing identity over one hundred years. The uniform was an active participant in the changing culture of nursing work and thought.
  • Following the presentation, there will be time for discussion with the audience.

11:00: Refreshments

11:30: Fashion Show of Nurses’ Uniforms

  • Facilitated by the members of the BC History of Nursing Society, and introduced by Lynne Esson

01:00: Lunch

Closing Remarks by Kathy Murphy and Geertje Boschma

Throughout the program: Displays of published works and artifacts on nursing history

Nursing History Symposium 2019 Webcast

The 2019 Nursing History Symposium on Thursday March 14 was an inspiring and invigorating day. Thank you to all our speakers and guests. We are excited to share the keynote address and panel session here!

Nursing History Symposium 2019 at a Glance

View Full Program and Abstracts

Dr. Susan Duncan, Keynote Speaker Nursing History Symposium 2019




Watch the Keynote Address
by Dr. Susan Duncan






Dr. Joan Anderson, Panel Member – Nursing History Symposium 2019



Watch the Panel Session






Enjoy Some Photos From the Event!


Question Period – Nursing History Symposium, 2019

UBC Press Display at Nursing History Symposium, 2019

UBC SoN Director Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc and Guest – Nursing History Symposium 2019

BC History of Nursing Society Members and Nursing Graduate Student – Nursing History Symposium 2019

Audience – Nursing History Symposium 2019

BC History of Nursing Society Display, Nursing History Symposium 2019

Health History Lecture: Capturing the History of Public Health Nursing and its Transformation from Nurses’ Work Experiences

In this lecture Ranjit Dhari, Lecturer for the UBC School of Nursing, reflects on a recent oral history project on Public Health Nursing in the Lower Mainland.

Ranjit Dhari

Ranjit Dhari


March 9, 2016
12:00 – 1:00
UBC School of Nursing – 3rd Floor, UBC Hospital
Room T206


Watch the Webcast 


Nursing Rounds: Beyond the Cuckoo’s Nest: Nurses and ECT in Dutch Psychiatry, 1940-2010

On February 23, 2016, Dr. Geertje Boschma reflects on her research on the history of electroconvulsive therapy, nursing, and Dutch psychiatry for the UBC School of Nursing’s “Nursing Rounds.”

Abstract: This presentation examines the history of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) from the viewpoint of nurses in the particular context of Dutch psychiatry. After a period of dwindling use and much controversy over ECT in the 1970s and 1980s, its application increased again during the 1990s. Competent nursing was a key component in ECT treatment from the outset. While nursing’s close ties to medical knowledge and therapies have been a source of ambivalence and professional tension, the connection also gave nurses new opportunities to renegotiate their expertise in the domain of biological psychiatry. As ECT became more accepted during the 1990s nursing’s grounding in the medical domain opened new professional avenues in ECT-nursing expertise and advanced practice.

Bio: Dr. Boschma is a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. She leads a research program on the history of nursing and health care, with special emphasis on mental health and mental health nursing. Dr. Boschma’s research aims to add to the understanding of change in health care and nursing’s professional identity.


UBC School of Nursing, 3rd Floor of UBC Hospital

Room T206

8:00 am – 8:50 am

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Health History Lecture: “We can do this but we need to do it our way”: Oral History Accounts of Deinstitutionalization in New Zealand

Please join the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry for the next lecture in our Health History Lecture Series. With co-sponser The UBC School of Nursing Critical Research in Health and Healthcare Inequities Unit, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Kate Prebble as our next speaker and visiting scholar. On June 3, 2015, she will present her work entitled: “‘We can do this but we need to do it our way’: Oral history accounts of setting up a forensic psychiatric service in Auckland, New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s – Creating an institution in the context of deinstitutionalisation?”

Abstract: This presentation explores the development of forensic psychiatric services in Auckland, New Zealand in the late 1980s and 1990s. The story is based on oral histories undertaken with twenty-one participants who helped create the service. They told of an innovative service, shaped by driven, motivated people, following some inspiring leadership. The background for this innovation and change was the chaos and struggles of the mental health hospital Oakley/Carrington, wider political wrangles over whether responsibility for forensic patients lay with the Departments of Justice or Health, and the driving philosophy and policy of deinstitutionalisation. The forensic service that these contributors created was predicated on a distancing from the past chaos, and looking forward to creating a service that was new, different and with home-grown solutions.

Participants were aware of contradictions inherent in providing contained care in the context of deinstitutionalisation. This paper explores how they rationalised their decisions – ‘we have to face the reality that there will always be an institution for people who have criminal offending attached to their mental illness’ – and how they attempted to incorporate principles of liberal psychiatry within the risk-conscious parameters of forensic psychiatric services.

Dr. Kate Prebble and Dr. Claire Gooder

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For more information email us at:

Health History Lecture Review


This lecture was delivered by Dr Lesley McBain, PhD for the March 2015 Health HIstory Lecture, Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry, Nursing at UBC.

Summary: Following World War II, provincial governments began extending healthcare to residents living in northern remote communities in Canada as a way to “modernize” the vast region and to pave the way for increased resource extraction. Small outpost nursing stations were established as part of a public health program across the north where public health nurses, often working alone and facing a number of challenges, delivered health care services to the primarily Aboriginal population. Lesley McBain introduced four perspectives as a way to understand and place in context the nurses’ experiences and interaction with northern communities. These included: the geographical notions of place and region; nursing notions of distal nursing – a framework offered by Ruth Malone – that explains the way nursing practice and interaction with users of service is dependent upon relational proximity that might get interrupted or be constrained by larger spatial-structural influences, such as – in this case – the federal – provincial division of health care delivery; the notion of modernization; and lastly, perspectives of colonization and internal colonization, which in this case referred to the way the North was viewed as a colony of the south from an intraprovincial point of view. These influences on nurses’ work and interaction with the local communities meant that the nurses’ roles and their perceptions of the communities where they worked were often ambiguous and contradictory, resulting in a mixed experience for nurses and patients alike. Drawing from the nurses’ personal correspondence and interviews, Lesley McBain gave insightful examples of nurses’ interactions and experiences, illustrating the perspectives about the places where nurses worked and the people they provided services to during a time of significant change.

For further details please refer to the recording of the talk, which has been made available by UBC IK Barber Learning Centre’s Community Outreach Program – Accessible Here.

Dr. Lesley McBain is Associate Professor Department of Indigenous Languages, Arts, and Cultures (DILAC), First Nations University of Canada. She received her doctorate degree in Geography from the University of Saskatchewan and has a Masters and Bachelors degree in Geography from the University of Saskatchewan.She is the Consortium’s 2015 Visiting Associate Professor.

If you want to read more about Lesley McBain’s research on the history of nursing in northern communities, see: McBain (2012) “Pulling Up Their Sleeves and Getting on with It: Providing Health Care in a Northern Remote Region,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 29 (2), 309-328. This article is available on line through open access at:

The UBC School of Nursing Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry Lecture Series is collaboration with the UBC Library and IK Barber Centre.

Lesley McBain

Health History Lecture: Reducing Risk: Cesarean Section at St. Paul’s Hospital, 1950-1970

Please join the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry for the next lecture in our Health History Lecture Series. On January 29, 2015, we welcome speaker Dr. Sally Mennill, who teaches in the History Department at Douglas College. In this lecture, “Reducing Risk: Caesarean Section at St. Paul’s Hospital, 1950-1970,” Dr. Mennill will present her work on the historical development of the caesarean section following World War II. This lecture is hosted jointly by the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry and The Collaboration for Maternal and Newborn Health.

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  January 29, 2015

  12:00 – 1:00 pm

  UBC School of Nursing, Room T182 (UBC Hospital 3rd Floor)


Health History Lecture: Working Professionalism, Nursing in Calgary and Vancouver 1958-1977

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 her PhD dissertation work: Working Professionalism: Nursing in Calgary and Vancouver 1958 to 1977.

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Dr. Scaia acknowledges her supervisors Dr. ME Purkis, Dr. L. Marks, & Dr. A. Lepp, and funding support from SSHRC Bombardier Scholarship

The event was held at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club

  • Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014 (RSVP by May 14)
  • Time: 11:30 am
  • Address: 1630 West 15th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J 2K7
  • Registration: $36.00, payable to The BC History of Nursing Society

Health History Lecture: Reconsidering The Demise of the Female Tradition in Physical Education

On March 19, 2014, Dr. Patricia Vertinsky (Distinguished University Professor, UBC School of Kinesiology) joined the Consortium to present some of her recent work. Dr. Vertinsky specializes in the social and cultural history of sport and physical activity with attention to gender, race, aging, and disability. On March 19th, Dr. Vertinsky challenged familiar progress and loss narratives found in the historiography of the female physical education profession in the 20th Century.

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Dr. Vertinsky

Dr. Vertinsky & Dr. Wendy Hall