This blog post was prepared by Autumn, one of our archive’s previous volunteers, and features related images from our archive collections.
In the month that saw the Military Service Act 1916 bring conscription in Great Britain into effect, Nursing Notes looks at the passing of legislation more directly relevant to its readership, as well as at the previous year in medicine.
The leading article “Annus Medicus, 1915” is, as you’ve probably already gathered, a summary of what happened in the field of medicine in the previous year. So, what did happen? The focus on the prevention and cure of diseases in the army and the treatment of combat wounds led to important work being done in the field of wartime medicine, albeit having taken away attention from other medical fields. Due to the war, there was an increased prevalence of conditions that had hitherto been rarely seen. Nowadays it feels like we’re really familiar with terms such as “trench-foot” and “dysentery” being used in association with the First World War, so it’s interesting to realise that at the time these conditions went from being little known to becoming part of the vernacular over a very short period of time. As for the field of public health, the movement for the improved health of mother and child was aided by the passing of the Notification of Birth (Amendment) Act. Under the Act it was now compulsory to give notification of births.
“Women’s Maternity Unit for Russia” describes how the National Union of Women’s Suffrage has put together a Maternity Unit called the British Women’s Hospital and sent it out to Petrograd in Russia, where there are over a million refugees from Poland and other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe. The unit will staff a new maternity hospital that is to be built for the benefit of these many fugitives.
“Midwives Act, Scotland” gladly reports that the Bill has now become law north of the border, but not without pointing out that it’s taken Scotland the 13 years since the passing of the Midwives Act in England to decide it also wants such legislation. The article’s writer hopes that Ireland would follow suit soon after.
In the return of “London Notes by a Rambler”, we are this time taken by our Ramblers to Fleet Street and The Temple. The piece mentions how two of the windows of the Church of St. Mary-le-Strand, a church that to this day stands at the north of The Temple, were destroyed in the Zeppelin raid of October 1915. It goes on to focus on No. 17, Fleet Street, a 17th century building that was in its time used as a Council Chamber. An illustration of this building is one of two images accompanying the article, the other being a postcard image of Oliver Goldsmith’s Tomb in the Inner Temple.
The latter part of the issue concerns itself with topics directly affecting midwives. For instance, “Threatened Abortion. The Midwife’s Duties and Responsibilities” starts with listing conditions that can directly or indirectly lead to abortion. In this context, “abortion” seems to mean “miscarriage”, with “criminal attempts to procure abortion” being listed separately from medical reasons for an aborted pregnancy. The article also describes the various types of abortion, namely threatened abortion, missed abortion and incomplete abortion.
Ending on a lighter note, there’s a joke in the “Notes by the Wayside” section that starts with “Two Hungary soldiers entered a restaurant and ordered Turkey without Greece.” I won’t tell you the punch line, mainly because I don’t understand it, but the last word is “Bagdad” (sic). I’m sure it was hilarious back in 1916.