2017 to 2018
Making the Peripheral Central: Rural Healthcare, Nursing, and the Anglo-World, 1887-1939
From the end of the nineteenth century until World War Two, rural health became a priority to social reformers in many parts of the British World. The inadequacy of the healthcare available to many rural dwellers was nothing new; the amount of attention it commanded was. My dissertation project reconstructs a network of rural nursing organizations founded in the United Kingdom, British Commonwealth, and United States from 1887 to 1939, highlighting the ideological significance of remote people and places at a time commonly associated with urbanization and rural decline. Those behind this rural nursing network argued for the value of rural lives, justifying why rural regions merited monumental healthcare efforts. This was not always easy: Sparsely populated, economically strapped, and geographically isolated places could hold expensive patients. The arguments rural nursing activists created, however, appealed to powerful ideals of nation and heritage. They also touched deep fears of loss and decline, supported by the latest scientific theories on race, health, and eugenics. This dissertation aspires to understand those ideals and fears.
Read more about Martha's work here.