Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
In recent years nursing history has taken on a new focus. The nursing histories of the first half of the twentieth century chronicled the steady growth and development of the profession and glorified the white nursing leaders who promoted the scientific basis and professionalization of nursing. These early histories, however, ignored or glossed over the many problems of the emerging profession: poorly educated nursing students, nursing school curriculums which were controlled by service administrators rather than educators, the substandard working and living conditions of both student nurses and graduate nurses, the subservience of nurses to physicians which did not serve patient needs, the rapid growth of diploma nursing schools (which were nothing more than diploma mills), the powerlessness of nursing practitioners to control the practice of their own profession, and racism. The publication of Ashley's Hospitals, Paternalism and the Role of the Nurse (1976) introduced a new genre of nursing history. Since then a number of revisionist nursing histories have been published. Darlene Hine's book Black Women in White follows this revisionist trend, focusing on the particular problem of racism and gender discrimination in the emerging nursing profession. Hine's study, covering the period from 1890-1950, addresses the attempts of black nurses to attain "agency," which she defines as the power and resources to end racial segregation and exclusionary and discriminatory policies.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1991