Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History

First Advisor

Alexandra Lindgren-Gibson

Second Advisor

Susan R. Grayzel

Third Advisor

Vivian Ibrahim

Relational Format



This dissertation discusses the role of medical women on the battlefront during the First World War. Using the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as a case study, it argues that frontline medical women occupied a liminal space on the fronts. As both witnesses and participants, they confronted wounds, trauma, and violence wrought by total war. Since this was typically reserved for the combatant, contemporary notions of gender refused to acknowledge medical women’s authority within the war story. This dissertation employs medical women’s wartime experiences to argue that their war story redefines our understandings of combatancy, allowing us to see it as a spectrum going beyond the furnishing of arms. To make these arguments, this dissertation analyzes the experiences of trained doctors within the Scottish Women’s Hospitals from 1914-1919. It specifically focuses on the doctor’s experiences in Serbia, drawing attention to the fluidity of the Eastern Front and how this gave medical women different opportunities within their wartime service. Finally, this dissertation concludes by analyzing the commemoration of the First World War and women’s participation within it to argue that despite their efforts, women’s wartime service continued to be marginalized within Victorian and Edwardian conceptions of gender.

Available for download on Thursday, December 14, 2023