Teaching Nursing History with Photographs

The video recording of “Teaching Nursing History with Photographs” presented at the 2021 ICN Congress, is now available in UBC’s library Open Collection at the following link: 



Presented by nursing history scholars Helen Vandenberg, Sandra Harrisson, Maria Eugenia Galiana-Sanchez, Cecilia Sironi, Lydia Wytenbroek, Anna La Torre, and Geertje Boschma, representing the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing and the European Association for the History of Nursing at the International Council of Nursing Congress, November 2, 2021


Teaching nursing history through photographs: between realities, cultural constructions and social idealisations. Countless images of nurses have been captured on camera, but what do they tell us about nursing’s past? This symposium examines historic photographs of nurses at various periods in history and from a range of social and national contexts in Europe and Canada. The purpose is to show how the analysis and interpretation of an image may form a way to gain a deeper understanding of nurses’ critical role in maintaining people’s health. Secondly, we demonstrate how photographs can be used as an intriguing educational strategy to teach nursing history. In a panel presentation with a brief discussion period, we will present and explain a series of historical photographs, either as slides or within a short video, and applying multiple analytic lenses, including gender, race, religion, nation and place. What determines an adequate and critical representation of nursing’s past?