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To 'take their place among the productive members of society': vocational rehabilitation of WWI wounded at Erskine

University of Glasgow

Dr Jennifer Novotny is a Research Assistant in History at the University of Glasgow. She holds a BA (summa cum laude) in History and English from Chatham University (Pittsburgh, USA), as well as MLitt (with distinction) in Battlefield and Conflict Archaeology and PhD in Archaeology from the University of Glasgow. Her on-going research focuses on the vestiges of modern conflict, particularly the material culture of war and violence. She is a member of the AHRC-funded Voices of War and Peace research network, as well as the Glasgow University Medical Humanities Network.

The foundation of the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers (still in existence today as Erskine) on the banks of the River Clyde in Scotland in 1916 was a direct response to the need for specialised medical facilities to deal with the unprecedented number of injured service personnel returning from the Great War. At the hospital, the West of Scotland medical and industrial communities came together to mend broken bodies with prosthetic technology, as well as physical and mental rehabilitation to prepare the limbless to re-enter the job market.

This paper explores the establishment of manual therapy workshops and other curative spaces created at Erskine, examining how such programmes of vocational rehabilitation were culturally informed by the concerns and anxieties of both the military and civilian populations.

This research is funded by the Wellcome Trust, with additional support from the Centre for Business History in Scotland (University of Glasgow) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Voices of War and Peace First World War engagement centre (University of Birmingham)."