Nursing History Research Unit

The Nursing History Research Unit is dedicated to the study of the history of health, broadly defined, with a primary focus on the history of nursing.  

NHRU History and Goals

NHRU Annual Reports

History of the University of Ottawa School of Nursing


The Nursing History Research Unit $10,000.00 Graduate Scholarships

The NHRU/URHN is offering an annual $10, 000.00 in scholarship money to be divided among graduate students, at both the Masters and Doctoral level, who wish to undertake a thesis project using historical perspectives relating to nursing or health. The research unit promotes bilingual and interdisciplinary health related research in areas including, but not limited to, the history of: nursing, disability, health related policy, psychiatry, and nursing/health professional education. The purpose of the award is to promote the use of historical perspectives on social and political aspects of contemporary nursing and health sciences.

Scholarship Checklist

Annual Report 2014-2015

The annual report of the NHRU-URHN is now available. See what the unit members have been up to during 2014-2015!

Congratulations to Isabelle Saumure

Congratulations to Isabelle Saumure (School of Nursing) laureate of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) 1 000$ Award for the winter session 2015. She is going to work on the research project conducted by professor Thifault on the database of Psychiatric department of Hôpital Montfort.

Monthly Research Meetings:

The Nursing History Research Unit would like to announce an opportunity for students, faculty and interested scholars to join a collaborative working group focussed on the history of health. We meet the first Friday of every month and encourage students and faculty to present ideas, conference papers and/or articles to the group for discussion. A formal presentation is not necessary. This is meant as a space to share ideas, work on research and encourage interest and scholarship in the history of nursing and health. Bring your coffee cups, we always have coffee and treats available!

Congratulations to Christine Chisholm

Christine Chisholm Congratulations to Christine Chisholm, winner 2014 of the $10 000 graduate scholarship. Christine is doing her PhD in the department of History at Carleton University. Her project is titled, "Tracing the Tragic Tale of Thalidomide in Ghana". She is co-supervised by NHRU members, Dr Susanne Klausen, professor of history at Carleton University and Dr. Isabelle Perreault professor at the Criminology department of UOttawa.

Congratuations to Gladys Bruyninx

Congratuations to Gladys Bruyninx who received a prestigious summer research scholarship for undergraduate students in Health Sciences from CIHR. She will work on the project of francophone deinstitutionalization in mental health under the supervision of Marie-Claude Thifault.


The NHRU is offering an annual $10 000 scholarship for graduate students, at either the MA or PhD level, who want to undertake a thesis project using historical perspectives relating to nursing or health. Applications must be submitted by July 1st, 2014.


(In French only)

Dr Hervé Guillemain, MCF Histoire Maître de conférences en histoire à l’université du Maine (Le Mans, France).
Spécialiste de l’histoire sociale, politique et culturelle du champ «psy» des XIXe et XXe siècles.

Nursing History Research Unit Logo

The Nursing History Research Unit Presents:

Psychiatric Nursing at Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1913-1917
Picture of nurses in the pastThursday, February 6, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
RGN 2021
Lunch will be served
Students and Faculty welcome
Dr. Susan Lamb
Dr. Susan Lamb
SSHRC Post-doctoral Fellow
Department of History & Classical Studies
McGill University
This paper explores the contours of psychiatric nursing practices within the burgeoning discipline of clinical psychiatry in the years before World War I. Like general medicine, nursing in North America was transformed in the closing decades of the 19th century with the emergence of the university hospital as the centre of medical training, research, and treatment. In this new clinical setting, nurses merged traditional approaches to the sickbed with new methods evolving from conceptual, institutional, and technological changes that accompanied the rise of science-based medicine. Like physicians, nurses adopted new roles as academic trainees, professors, and administrators. Taking the formation of North America’s first academic Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins in 1913 as a case study, Dr. Lamb examines the emergence of specialized psychiatric nursing within Anglo-American academic medicine from the perspectives of faculty, trainees, RSVP Alessandra Iaonzdz op-aDtiuenvtasl.:

Autumn Conference with Dr. Marc Lévêque

Une histoire controversée. De la chirurgie lésionnelle aux dispositifs de stimulation dans le traitement des pathologies mentales.

This is a French Language Event

Jadis très controversée — avec les tristement célèbres lobotomies — la psychochirurgie, ou le traitement chirurgical des maladies mentales, connaît un spectaculaire renouveau avec l’avènement, depuis une dizaine d’années, des techniques de stimulation cérébrale. Cette « neuromodulation » ouvre de nombreuses perspectives thérapeutiques que ce soit dans la dépression, les troubles obsessionnels compulsifs, le syndrome de Gilles de la Tourette, l’anorexie mentale, mais aussi dans des indications beaucoup plus controversées tels que les addictions, les comportements agressifs ou les déviances sexuelles. 

Thursday October 24, 2013 - 11:30-2:30 Roger Guindon Hall, room 3248

Please RSVP at the following Doodle:


photo of marc leveque
  • Alessandra Iozzo

    We welcome Alessandra Iozzo-Duval as the new administrator/research facilitator of the Unit.  She is replacing longtime administrator Jayne Elliott, who is now retired.  Alessandra is finishing her doctoral work in the Faculty of Education researching the early history of the School for the Deaf in Belleville, Ontario.  On completion of her dissertation, she will be taking up a postdoctoral fellowship with the Unit. (2013-09-05)

  • Call for Candidates: The Nursing History Research Unit (NHRU) is offering a one-year postdoctoral scholarship of $34,000 (renewable) with all the advantages of a postdoctoral award at the University of Ottawa.  The appropriate candidate will have a role in the administration of the Unit and is invited to participate in a research project on the recruitment of new nurses to Canada.  All applications must be submitted to Jayne Elliott ( no later than 31 July 2013.  More  (2013-07-04)

  • Appel à candidature:  Recruitement d’un doctorat pour une thèse sur  l’histoire du cancer, Université du Maine, Le Mans, France, Allocation de thèse de la Région Pays de la Loire. Début de la thèse : septembre 2013,  Durée de la thèse : trois ans, Financement : 92 000 € sur trois ans. Pour plus d’informations voir (2013-07-04)

  • Congratulations to Sandra Harrisson on winning the new scholarship award of $10,000 from the Nursing History Research Unit for her doctoral research project "Déhospitalisation psychiatrique : Pratique de soins et d'insertion sociale au sein de la communauté francophone Est-ontarienne, 1976 à 2006." (2013-06-26)

  • Appel de Candidatures.  Bourse de maîtrise / doctorat et stage postdoctoral.  Déhospitalisation psychiatrique et accès aux services de santé mentale regards croisés Ontario/ Québec, 1950-2012. Deadline 15 August 2013. For more information and for how to apply (2013-05-28)

  • Warmest congratulations to Unit member Jaime Lapeyre, who on 5 April successfully defended her doctoral thesis "The Idea of Better Nursing": The American Battle for Control over Standards of Nursing Education in Europe, 1918-1925."  (2013-04-10)

  • Defying Expectations: Black Nurses, Education, Training, and Work in Canada. A seminar to be given by Karen Flynn, PhD, Department of African American Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.

    Friday 12 April 2013; 12:00-2:00, University of Ottawa, RGN 2111. RSVP   (2013-03-06)

    Karen Flynn

  • Summer school at UQAM, 1-5 July 2013.  Research methodologies in human and social sciences.  The objective of this week-long workshop is to examine methodological problems encountered by doctoral students in the human and social sciences.  This school will be structured around 3 axes:  data management and qualitative and quantitative analyses.  (in French)  For more information  (2013-03-06)

    Ecole d'ete research methodologies UQAM

  • Congratuations to Émilie Lebel-Bouchard who received a prestigious summer research scholarship for undergraduate students in Health Sciences from CIHR.  She will work on the project of francophone deinstitutionalization in mental health under the supervision of Marie-Claude Thifault. (2013-03-06) Emilie Lebel Bouchard

  • The University of Ottawa Press will be at the Salon de livre de l’Outaouais,under the banner of Prologue, 28 February to 3 March, at the Palais des congrès in Gatineau. Marie-Claude Thifault and Isabelle Perreault(at stand 316): Thursday 28 February, 3 pm to 5 pm for L'incontournable caste des femmes. More details: (2013-02-26)

  • Book Launch for Thomas Foth's new publication, Caring and Killing: Nursing and Psychiatric Practice in Germany, 1931-1943. Friday 8 March at Armada Lounge, 23 York Street, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. (2013-02-19)

  • Nursing Research Rounds for 28 February 2013 (11:30 - 1 pm) to be presented by Isabelle Perreault and Thomas Foth in Room 3035 Guindon.  Lunch served. (2013-02-19)

  • Congratulations to Marie-Claude Thifault (PI) and her co-investigators Isabelle Perreault and Marie LeBel (Hearst University) for obtaining a 3-year CIHR grant for a research project entitled "Psychiatric Dehospitalization and Access to Mental Health Services: Perspectives from Ontario and Quebec, 1950-2012." (2013-02-06)

  • See more on the successful seminar and book launch for Tina Bates new book, A Cultural History of the Nurse's Uniform. (2012-12-13)

  • New Scholarship!  The Nursing History Research Unit is offering an annual scholarship of $10,000 (maximum) for PhD, MScN, or MA students who want to undertake a thesis project using historical perspectives. More

  • Congratulations to Sarah Glassford, research affiliate of the Nursing History Research Unit, for winning the Faculty of Arts Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Ottawa in Spring 2012. Sarah, now teaching in the department of History at the University of Prince Edward Island, recently gave a public talk on "Fun Facts You Probably didn't Know About the History of Nursing" for the PEI History of Medicine Society. (2012-11-12)

  • Call for Papers for Women and Science Panel, Berkshire Conference on Women's History
    Histories on the Edge/Histoires sur la brèche, Toronto: May 22-25, 2014
    Proposals due: January 15, 2013 More

  • Isabelle Perreault will present « Psychochirurgie et traitements de choc : discours et pratiques à l’Hôpital Saint-Jean-de-Dieu de Montréal, 1948-1956 », for the Département d'histoire des seances de la vie et de la santé, Institut d’Anatomie pathologique (ancien hôpital civil) 14h., in Strasbourg. (2012-11-03)

  • DEADLINE EXTENDED to 10 December 2012. The Canadian Society for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing have extended the call for papers for their conference 1-3 June 2013 at the University of Victoria .More 

  • Helen Mussallem, 1914-2012.  Helen Mussallem passed away in Ottawa on Friday, 9 November 2012 in her 98th year. Following graduation from the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing, she served as a Nursing Sister during the Second World War.  Following the war, she returned to school and wrote influential reports on nursing education throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1962 she became the first Canadian nurse to obtain a PhD degree. During and after her position as executive director of the Canadian Nurses Association ) from 1963 to 1981, she consulted widely for the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization on nursing education in developing countries.  Mussallem was Canada's most decorated nurse. More
  • Hannah Studentships: Three month summer studentships in the amount of $5,500 are available to undergraduate students registered in a Canadian university for a closely supervised project in the history of health and medicine. The funds are provided by Associated Medical Services Inc.  The studentship is being administered in partnership with the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine (CSHM) which is responsible for adjudicating the applications. Applications must be postmarked by February 1, 2013.  (More)
  • Conference: Taking Toronto's Healthcare History, University of Toronto, 23-24 November 2012. An interdisciplinary conference for anyone thinking about Toronto's healthcare communities and their history from diverse, unique perspectives.Come celebrate the launch of the first ever conference dedicated to Toronto's healthcare history! Keynote delivered by the celebrated medical historian Dr. Michael Bliss.
  • 15 November 2012, Lecture and Book Launch, Thursday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m, Health Sciences Campus, Guindon, Room 2022
    Christina Bates, Curator emerita in History, Canadian Museum of Civilisation, will present her research on the role of the nurse's uniform in creating nursing identity for over a hundred years. Hosted by the Nursing History Research Unit, the lecture will be based on her book entitled A Cultural History of the Nurse’s Uniform. RSVP: More
  • Congratulations to Carol Helmstadter and Judith Godden for winning the 2012 Lavinia L. Dock Award from the American Association for the History of Nursing for their newly published book, Nursing before Nightingale 1850 -1899 (2012-10-12)
  • Sandra Harrisson, a doctoral student in Nursing at the University of Ottawa, has won a scholarship of $15,000 offered by the team working in the field of the history of francophone deinstitutionalization and mental health (Thifault, Perreault, Cellard, Dorvil, St-Amand), research that is supported by a CIHR grant.  Sandra’s research is entitled Psychiatric Dehopsitalization : practices of care in the social integration of people into the Eastern Ontario francophone community, 1976-2006.  Congratulations Sandra! (2012-10-01)
  • New Publication from Marie-Claude Thifault
    L’incontournable caste des femmes
    histoire des services de santé au Québec et au Canada

    Edited by Marie-Claude Thifault 
    University of Ottawa Press, 2012 (in French). (2012-09-12)
  • Welcome to new members of the Unit
    The Nursing History Research Unit is happy to welcome to its teaching faculty two doctoral candidates in nursing who are also teaching in the School of Nursing. Jaime Lapeyre is completing her doctorate at the University of Toronto on the development of the international education of public health nurses in North America and Europe in the early 20th century. Brandi VanderSpank is pursuing her doctoral studies on the history of intensive care units in Canada at the University of Ottawa. We cordially welcome them to our research team. (2012-08-01)
  • Notice of new scholarship for students in Master's or doctoral programs.  Le Champ Francophone de la déinstitutionalisation en santé mentale. Grâce au financement des Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada (IRSC, 2010-2012), notre équipe de recherche entend participer à une lecture pancanadienne de l’histoire de la santé mentale au Canada en s’intéressant spécifiquement au contexte de désinstitutionnalisation et de déhospitalisation qui a marqué le Québec, l’Ontario et le Nouveau-Brunswick. Le programme de recherche d’histoire et de sociologie de la santé s’intéresse à la période 1920-1980. Les institutions psychiatriques du Québec, d’Ottawa et du Nouveau-Brunswick seront au coeur de notre enquête afin de découvrir le contexte canadien-français entourant la transition interinstitutionnelle des personnes psychiatrisées vivant en institution asilaire et dirigées vers des pavillons satellites au sein de leur communauté. Submission date ends 1 August 2012. (2012-06-21)
  • New book co-authored by Thomas Foth,   Allgemeinmedizin und Pflege in der ambulanten und heimstationären Versogung (2012-06-21)
  • New from Sarah Glassford and Amy Shaw, A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War (2012-06-21)
  • Cynthia Toman, retired Director of the NHRU, received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (commemorating the Queen's 60th anniversary), for her “contributions to Canada,” related to her research, publications, and preservation of Canadian military nursing history.  The award was supported by the Nursing Sisters Association of Canada. (2012-05-15)