Vol. 19 No. 2 (2015): Journal of Nursing Pensar Enfermagem
Original Articles

Paths and challenges of an investigation of the history of Nursing in Portugal (19th and 20th centuries)

Helena Silva
Professora, Université Le Havre, PhD

Published 2015-12-30


  • History of Nursing Profession,
  • Hospital Geral de Santo António,
  • Nursing Evolution in Portugal,
  • Nursing Training,
  • Nurses’ Trade Unions and Associations

How to Cite

Silva, H. (2015). Paths and challenges of an investigation of the history of Nursing in Portugal (19th and 20th centuries). Pensar Enfermagem, 19(2), 68–84. https://doi.org/10.56732/pensarenf.v19i2.109


Nursing has not always been considered a profession; its passage from an occupation to a socially recognised profession was a slow process. Our aim is to reveal the evolution of nursing in Portugal during the 19th and 20th centuries and underline the original characteristics of the historical process of professionalization, despite French and British influences. This process included the creation of specific training and of an official diploma. At the same time, professionals started to gather into trade unions and associations, which published several journals and contributed to this process. We will also analyse the evolution of the nursing profession in the specific case of Saint Anthony’s General Hospital, in Oporto (Portugal). We carried out a qualitative and
quantitative analysis of a wide set of primary sources from different archives, as well as several interviews to retired nursing professionals. We have also used a diverse bibliography on the history of the nursing profession in France and in the United Kingdom to be able to draw comparisons with the Portuguese case.


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