Gordon, Olivia (2021) 'The final reckoning': The 'Spanish influenza' pandemic and the unspoken contributions of professional nurses (1918-1920). Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic hit every corner of the world with incredible force. There were no vaccines to prevent the spread of infection, and there were very few medicines that could be given to alleviate symptoms. Doctors and surgeons felt useless in the face of the 1918 pandemic, and it was left to the care and dedication of nurses to care for patients when there was no cure. The Spanish influenza provided a historic milestone for the nursing profession as it allowed nurses to start to be seen, heard, and appreciated. This project uses a selection of primary and secondary material and is an ode to how creating a thesis primarily using online sources is possible. Due to Covid19 restrictions, not all archives could be visited, and therefore online archive deposits were used to create a transatlantic study of the nurses that worked during the Spanish influenza. This thesis looks at the methods used by nurses to care for influenza patients, and the importance of their work when other medical professionals felt hopeless. It then looks at why the nursing profession faced a shortage of nurses, and what was done to train and employ more nurses and, in turn, provide more care to those in need. This thesis ends by making comparisons between the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic and Covid19 and highlights the importance of learning from the past. This research shows the work of nurses across the world during the 1918 influenza pandemic and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the unmatchable work done by nurses both in the past and the present.

GORDON - THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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