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THE PLACE OF RELIGION AS AN INTERPRETIVE TOOL IN NURSING HISTORY by ProQuest

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In writing about the place of religion within history, David Gary Shaw discusses the challenges this brings, including rearranging "our conceptualizations of the religious and the secular, of our own vision, and the paradigms that organize our knowledge, so that we can see our way to a more productive and less anxious relationship between secular eyes and religious topics." Returning to the theme of religion and history, Shaw argues that methodologically, historians pay attention to both written and oral past sources, and as long as they are willing to follow their skeptical methods, they can remain alive to the power that religious traditions, beliefs, and practices have. 8 Brad Gregory believes that historians can expand their range of study to include the significance of the religious past for the ones who lived it.

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									THE PLACE OF RELIGION AS
AN INTERPRETIVE TOOL
IN NURSING HISTORY


Guest Editor’s Note

Often historiography keeps religion at arm’s length. In writing about the
place of religion within history, David Gary Shaw discusses the challenges this
brings, including rearranging “our conceptualizations of the religious and the
secular, of our own vision, and the paradigms that organize our knowledge,
so that we can see our way to a more productive and less anxious relationship
between secular eyes and religious topics.” As important are the ways we write
about people whose beliefs differ from ours. Indeed, historians may need to
revise their methods “if they are to cope productively with believers past and
present, even if we can disregard what historians themselves believe.”1
     In this issue, we feature two essays that open paths for historians of nurs-
ing to rethink the relationship between religion and nursing history. One is a
local study by Anne Z. Cockerham and Arlene W. Keeling, who examine the
Catholic Medical Mission Sisters as nurse-midwives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
They are interested in the relationship between the sisters’ religious practices
and beliefs and the economics involved in their work with Spanish American
clients. The other is an international comparative study by Susanne Kreutzer
about deaconesses in Germany and the United States. She answers the ques-
tion of why the German concept of the parish deaconess failed in the United
States compared to its success in Germany.
     Women and religion is a relatively new topic in historical research, and
interest is growing in international circles. An important milestone was Sioban
Nelson’s Say Little, Do Much, which first corrected the historical “blind spot”
in nursing history. She argued that long before Florence Nightingale came on
the scene, Catholic sisters were organizing home care, creating and administer-
ing hospitals, and volunteering their work in military and epi
								
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