chapter  8
Nursing charities, c.1830–c.1860
ByAnne Summers
Pages 16

This chapter will, by contrast, focus as much on nursing in the domiciliary sector as in the hospitals in the mid-nineteenth century. The records of two nursing charities, the Institution for Nursing Sisters founded by Elizabeth Fry in 1840, and the Training Institution for Nurses, St John’s House, founded by high church Anglicans in 1848, offer a particularly fruitful source for the study of the relationship between domiciliary, institutional, philanthropic and commercial medical provision in this period. These sources, and evidence on the activities of religious visiting societies, demonstrate that nursing provision and reform had, in the first half of the century, a largely autonomous history: a rationale and a momentum which

evolved separately from, and sometimes ran counter to, developments in the voluntary hospital sector. If there is, indeed, a text to which nursing history forms a sub-plot it is the history of Victorian Christianity. Paradoxically, perhaps, this line of inquiry has the unexpected result of throwing light on both clinical and nonclinical aspects of hospital development that would not have been provided by a hospital-centred method of research.