Every new volume published in the history of nursing and midwifery presents a moment for reflection and celebration. Since it first attracted critical attention in the early 1980s, the history of nursing has grown steadily into a solid subject of research. I welcome and applaud the current volume as evidence of the strengthening community of scholars, the sustainability of the enterprise and the continued spread of nursing history into new international domains. Significantly, there is continuity with some familiar themes of research: the relationship between nursing and the state, representations of nurses in the media, international influences, the politics of childbirth, conflict with the medical profession, the cultural politics of care. But these are framed within nuanced and textured approaches to analysis demonstrating methodological sophistication in which case studies combine with collaborative, broader survey and epidemiological approaches. Especially heartening is the continued cross-cultural expansion of research into new territory with new contributions from Norway and Japan. Above all, what the present volume reflects is the emerging international support networks and infrastructure for research within nursing and midwifery's scholarly communities. The editors are to be congratulated not only in bringing this volume to fruition but in adding the UK Centre for the History of Nursing to similar endeavours within the Universities of Pennsylvania and Melbourne. Together, these provide important national and international platforms for communication, linkage and exchange between scholars in the field. The next task is to make the history of nursing more competitive and attractive to funders. This will underwrite the future of the field and help it to find a firmer foothold within the academy. Nursing history is no longer a fledgling discipline. Collections such as the present demonstrate it is an energetic and enterprising force to be reckoned with.
Anne Marie Rafferty
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine