The Relation of the Nurse to the Working World: Professionalization, Citizenship, and Class in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States before World War I

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Campaigns for state nursing registration in the United States and Great Britain have a prominent place in the historical scholarship on nursing professionalization; the closely related German campaign has received less scholarly attention. Applying a transnational perspective to these three national movements highlights the collaborative and interrelated nature of nursing reform prior to World War I and recognizes the important contribution of German nurses to this dialogue and agenda. Focusing particularly on the years 1909–12, this article depicts a generation of German, American, and British nurses who organized national and international nursing associations to realize state registration as a stepping stone to other markers of professional recognition, such as collegiate education, full political citizenship, social welfare, and labor legislation. However, the consequent reliance of these strategies on nation-states as arbiters of citizenship and professional status undermined the shared ideological foundation of international and national nursing leaders. This article contributes to a more multinational understanding of how these international nursing leaders transcended and were confined by the limits of their nation-states in the years leading up to World War I.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalNursing History Review
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Arts and Humanities
  • History

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