‘The Girls Who Work and Strain’: Female Caregivers and Disciplinarians in First World War Britain


Hospitals in Britain were full of women. Though we most often remember them as nurses and VADs, many worked as masseuses and doctors, or spent time and money volunteering to care for wounded soldiers. Drawing on first-hand accounts from the men and women in the hospital, this talk explores the relationships they created.


It challenges the reality of propagandistic representations of the hospital. Though state endorsed messages suggested that soldiers formed maternal bonds with their nurses, evidence of romantic, and sometimes violent interactions exist. Instead of adhering to the maternal trope, some women challenged Edwardian gender roles through disciplining and regulating the bodies of wounded men.


Dr Jack Davies completed his PhD at the University of Kent in January 2017. His thesis examined the use of stately homes as hospitals during the First World War. Since then he has worked as an Assistant Curator on the Medicine Project at the Science Museum. The team are building five new history of medicine galleries that are scheduled to open in Autumn 2019.


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'The Girls Who Work and Strain': Female Caregivers and Disciplinarians in First World War Britian

15th November 2017 at 2.30pm

Booking Details

Free with admission to the Museum.


Florence Nightingale Museum

St Thomas' Hospital

2 Lambeth Palace Road

London SE1 7EW