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The brilliant Shubert brothers - Lee, Samuel and Jacob

Many thanks to The Shuberts of Broadway by Brooks McNamara (1990). The heart of Manhattan's theatre district is lined with shrines to their great careers, including the Imperial and Majestic.

The three Shubert brothers were Lee (1873-1953), Samuel (1875-1905) and Jacob (1879-1963). They were born in Lithuania before their Szemanski parents brought the family to Syracuse New York in 1882. Father David was an alcoh­olic peddlar who could not support his family.

In the 1880s, 10 year old Lee began selling program­mes in front of a local theatre and Sam got a small part in a play. Sam fell in love with theatrical glamour and went from actor at the Bastable Theatre, to ass­istant treasurer of the Grand Opera House, to treasurer of Syracuse’s loveliest theatre, The Wieting.

The brothers were supporting each other’s work. When Sam became manager of the Bastable Theatre, Jacob was working at The Wieting and Lee was the bookkeeper for both theatres. By being involved in as many theatres as possible, the Shuberts were building an imp­ressive theatrical empire. Their first joint business venture was to get New England touring rights to Hoyt’s A Texas Steer. And soon after the brothers formed their own Baker theatre in Rochester. While Jacob turned The Baker into a successful stock comp­any, Sam and Lee acquired The Grand Opera House in Syracuse.

Brothers Sam, Jacob/JJ and Lee Shubert

By 1900 the bro­thers managed five theatres in New York state. They had also de­fined their individual roles: Sam was creative, Lee was business-minded and Jacob organised out-of-town productions. From poverty, the brothers had become respected theatre man­agers. But now they wanted to produce their own plays, and that ambition drove them to New York City. In 1900 they borrowed money and bought the Herald Square Theatre.

The brothers turned Herald Square into a very successful theat­re with smash hits like the western Arizona starring Lionel Barrymore, and The Belle of New York, an English import. By 1904, after ten years in the business, they had acquired ten theatres, including Cas­ino and Princess in New York; Hyperion in New Haven Conn; Dearborn in Chicago; and Colonial in Boston. Finally they produced plays of their own eg The Chinese Honey­moon and Emerald Isle (1902).

And sometimes the Shuberts were simply impresarios. They presented repertory companies from Italy and Britain and they organised seasons of operettas eg Gilbert & Sullivan.

In May 1905 at 30, Sam died in a tragic train wreck near Har­r­is­­burg Penn. By then the three brothers had 13 theatres in the USA plus two in the UK. Sam’s 15-year career had generated an estate of $500,000 ($14.7 million today).

Unfortunately the rapid growth of the Shubert Co. was a threat to The Syndicate, a group of pro­ducers and theatre owners who bel­ieved they controlled American theatre in the early C20th. Led by Abe Erlanger and some other pro­ducers, the Syndicate owned the majority of American theatres and ran the central booking agency. 

After Sam’s death, Lee planned to sell to the Synd­ic­ate, unt­il Erlanger made the mistake of insulting Sam’s memory. From then on, the Shub­erts fought the Syndicate fiercely. The two surviving brothers clarified they were on the side of the theatre workers and against the Synd­ic­ate’s con­trol. They pro­duced a farewell tour for the idolised actress Sarah Bern­hardt in 1913-4, and when the Syndicate closed them out of a city, they pro­duced the show in VERY big tents.

By the 1920s Syracuse’s underdogs had defeated the Syndic­ate. By 1924 the Shuberts had 86 theatres in the USA alone; they were mak­ing $1 million a week in ticket sales; and they controlled 60% of the USA’s legitimate theatre, owned a dancing/singing school and truckloads of real estate. And Lee was on the board of MGM!!

To honour their late brother, the Shuberts named the Manhattan venue the Sam B Shubert Memorial Theatre. Completed in mid 1913, the five-storey theatre was designed in the Venetian Renais­s­ance style. Ar­ch­itect Henry Beaumont Herts' ornamentation included delicate pan­els with Pompeian frescoes and a stately overall ap­pearance.

The Shubert brothers scored a coup for opening night. The fine British actor Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson arrived in New York in Sept 1913 to beg­in his farewell tour, which began with Hamlet in Oct at The Shubert. Co-starring with him as Ophelia was his wife, Gertrude Elliott.

Princess Theatre Detroit
Opened 1908
Front entrance of Shubert Theatre, Boston (above)
opened 1910
Shubert Theatre, Boston, 1500 seats (below)

While the brothers had formed their own trust and were in constant litig­ation, they did introduce many of the finest stage-actors, including Will Rogers, Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Bert Lahr, the Barrymores and Spencer Tracy. They also pre­m­iered the innovative director Max Reinhardt’s production of Sumurun (1911); premiered Child­ren’s Hour (1934) by Lilian Hellman; and prod­uced the long running Hell­z­apoppin (1938). Yet despite the fact that Lee had written a play and Jacob directed frequently, their contribution to the theatre was not artistic; just business.

Shubert Theatre saw famous plays and actors for decades. In 1939 Katharine Hepburn opened in Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story; in 1941 Pal Joey moved from the Barry­more Theatre bec­ause of the Shubert's larger capacity. The Rodgers & Hart musical starr­ed Gene Kelly opposite Vivienne Segal. And soon Max­well Ander­son's Candle in the Wind opened, starring Helen Hayes and Lotte Lenya.

By the time of Lee Shubert’s death in 1953 at 80, the brothers had prod­uced 600 shows under the name Mssrs. Shubert Presents. And they’d also booked 1,000 shows into their many theatres, prim­ar­ily backing other companies’ productions. In 1956 they were faced with an anti-trust suit and were forced to stop their booking bus­i­ness, yet their acquis­it­ions of theatre real estate continued to make the Shubert Corpor­ation a large theatre oper­at­ion.

With Jacob’s death in 1963, the heirs took over. Although the Shubert domain was reduced to 17 theatres in New York, part control of an 18th and seven outside New York, the Shubert victories in the old wars still im­p­acted the industry.

Shubert and Booth Theatres,
New York, opened 1913

Shubert Theatre, New Haven Conn
Opened in 1914

How Jewish were the brothers? Musical comedy had its sources in the European operetta. Then it moved from Britain to the US where, in the C20th, the genre underwent its greatest devel­opment. Already Jews like the Shuberts were playing a very influen­tial role on the careers of other Jewish artists eg Flor­enz Ziegfeld and the Follies, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Rudolf Friml, Sigmund Romberg, Richard Rodgers, George Gersh­win, Arthur Schwartz, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, EY Har­burg, Ira Gershwin, George S Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, Frank Loesser etc.

Thank you to Dayton in Manhattan.


Hoarding endangers physical, mental and family health

Collyer’s syndrome aka hoarding was named in honour of Homer and Langley Collyer, brothers who buried themselves in their family mansion in Harlem, fill­ing it with rubbish between WW1 until they both died in 1947, buried under junk. By mid century, as the post-WW2 econ­om­ic boom enabled people of modest means to acquire heaps of objects, Collyer’s syndrome became more wide­spread.

If the compulsive hoarding of useless things seemed to be noticed only since WW1, and primarily the last few de­cades, something must have changed in history and cul­t­ure. For those who hoarded them, ob­jects took on individual person­alities with oversized emotional signif­ic­ance. The objects couldn’t be cas­ually discarded; if they were discarded by others, the hoarder suffered terrible distress.
The lounge room has disappeared under the rubbish

Preparing food, washing dishes and eating at the kitchen table
are impossible under the rubbish. 
Searcy, Arkansas

Acquisition was the first half of the disorder. People loved the rubbish they didn’t immediately need was free, re­minded them of a particular experience,
c.they might need it some­day, might become valuable in the future or
e.the hoarder didn’t want to be cont­rolled by others.

Even if they would have liked to downsize, hoarders faced the over­whelming diff­iculty of sorting their mess. They tended to be easily distracted and couldn’t concentrate. And they put off making decisions, rather than risk making wrong decisions. Yet they had a deep aversion to others helping or sifting through the piles.

Was the hoarding disorder really increasing or was an inc­rease in media coverage simply boosting public awareness? The first task force that formed in 1989 estimated 19 mil­lion Americans hoarded. And now there are 100+ such organisations in the USA. 

The disorder occasionally showed up in adolescence, but it usually intensified in older age, made worse by divorce, bereavement, poor thinking or financial crisis. 65+ was the prime age for hoard­ing, the very point where people were losing their indep­endence, work, status, connect­ions, sensory acuity, physical strength and mental sharp­ness. Hoarding was one way an older person shored himself up. 

A hoarding industry has sprung up: psychologists, social workers, public health workers, professional org­anisers, fire marshals, bio-hazard cleaners and haulers. The workers found that the hoarders might have been intelligent, well-educated and creative, but they did NOT want to be sorted out. Even where city offic­ials had for­c­ed a cleanup, the house had filled up again soon after it had been emptied.

Clearly most hoarders didn’t see their own behaviour as disordered, and or­iginally psychology didn’t either. Only in 2013 was the key Diag­nostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders/DSM revised to list sev­ere hoarding as a disorder in its own right. According to this Manual, hoarding was diagnosed when the criteria below were met (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

1.Hoarder had ongoing difficulty throwing out or giving away poss­essions, even if the objects were largely useless.

2.The sufferers had difficulty discarding possessions as they believed they needed to save them. They became very distressed when faced with the prospect of discarding them.

3.Hoarders ended up with too many possessions which caused con­gestion in the living areas of their home, office, car or garden. They built a wall of shame that blocked the entry of family, friends and trade­s­men.

4.The behaviour impaired hoarders’ ability to function at work, or to maintain a safe environment to live in. Crawling with rodents and cockroaches, covered in mould and bact­eria, these mounds were a health hazard and a fire hazard.

5.The hoarding was not attributable to another medical condition e.g. head injury, stroke.

6. The hoarding was not attributable to other psychiatric disorders.

Psych­ologists believed hoarding was a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder/OCD: repeated, ritualised action intended to ward off anxiety. That theory lasted for decades, even though clinical hoard­ing affected 6% of the world population, twice as many as OCD affected. Once the DSM listed severe hoarding as a disorder apart from obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychologists were asking what explained its prevalence.

Most people who engaged in extreme hoarding didn’t meet the crit­eria for OCD. They were more prone to depress­ion than those with OCD, and they had more difficulty making decis­ions. Worst of all they had little awareness of their own destructive behaviour. Genetic link­age studies showed a different pattern of inheritance from OCD, and brain scans showed a different pattern of activation. Drugs successful in treating OCD were ineffective for hoarding!

In 2013 hoarding disorder was freed from the OCD categ­ory, but could have been connected to an array of causes. In families with two or more members who hoarded, researchers identified an allele on chromosome 14. 80%+ of the subjects reported a first-degree rel­at­ive with similar prob­l­ems. See Randy Frost and Gail Stek­etee’s book Stuff: Compul­sive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.

Sleeping by the hoarder and his family takes place wherever space is available

In countries with large yards, the hoarding can spread out to the verandas and gardens
Bondi, Sydney

Other studies suggested non-genetic causes. Hoarding could acc­omp­any certain traumatic brain injuries, Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, neuro-degenerative disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, clinic­al depression and dementia. Note that childhood poverty did not seem to be connected with hoarding. But resear­ch­ers found a possible link between hoarding and PTSD among Holocaust surviv­ors; late-onset hoarding was often linked to loss or trauma. The psych­ol­ogical thesis was that objects were gath­ered in a fut­ile attempt to fill emotional emptiness, piled up like a protective bar­r­icade.

Cognitive behavioural therapy was a commonly employed treatment for hoarding disorder. Anxiety Treatment Australia stated the aims of therapy thus: to
Decrease clutter
Improve the client’s decision-making re their belongings
Improve the hoarder’s organisational skills re their belongings
Increase the client’s resistance to the urge to save objects.

Suggested treatments that did not require professional intervention included:
Hoarders must cease subscribing to magazines and to put a “no junk mail”‘ notice on their letter box.
Hoarders must develop a schedule in activities previously avoided eg washing, emptying rubbish.
Sufferers will use relaxation skills, since discarding belongings can trigger anxiety.
Hoarders will keep a daily log of every time they acquire or purchase something so they can identify their triggers.

For properly assessed, professional treatment programmes, read the Treatments for Hoarding Behaviours in ResearchGate.

I encourage readers to see Hoarders, the successful American reality tv programme that debuted on A&E in Aug 2009.


Anti Vaxxers caused the death of children by measles in 2019 Guest post

Smallpox was a dangerous, scarring and often fatal disease and before the C18th, treat­ments were painful and hopeless. Then Lady Mary Mon­tagu, wife of the British ambass­ador to the Otto­man Empire, obser­v­ed inoculation by var­iol­­at­ion. The doctor insert­ed cells tak­en from a smallpox pustule, into the skin of a healthy sub­ject; the res­ulting infection was mostly mild and granted life­long imm­unity. Lady Mary’s brother had earlier died of smallpox and she survived the disease in 1715, so she needed to protect her child­ren. But back in Lond­on, many British doctors scoffed at the prac­tice as “Or­ient­al folk treatment practised by peasant women”.

Protesting against a proposed bill that would remove parents’ ability to claim a philosophical exemption to the MMR vaccine, Feb 2019
Olympia, Washington. Guardian 

Yet as the practice of inoculation by variol­ation successfully spread through UK and the Empire, new opposition emerged. Espec­ially in Boston during a 1721 smallpox epidemic. Local Congregat­ion­alist minister Cotton Mather (1663-1728), who’d studied medic­ine, vig­or­ously advocated in­oculations. But some Boston physic­ians condemn­ed inoculation as an affront to God’s will; only God could determine who might be exposed to small­pox and survive, or die.

Swiss physician Théodore Tronchin (1709–1781) att­racted international patients to his clinic. The Duke of Orleans, Louis-Philippe I (1725-85), sum­m­oned Tronchin to Paris to treat his children; a tiny amount of the smallpox virus was taken from the pustule of a smallpox patient. Tronchin’s success in sav­ing the royal children sparked excitement about inoculation among Paris’ ar­ist­ocracy. But his success inevitably led to a campaign of hatred against him, by scientists, clerics and University of Paris scholars.

Edward Jenner (1749-1823) was a doctor practising in his Gloucest­ershire village where variolat­ion was a part of his duties, using the arm-to-arm system. Then in 1796 Jenner discovered that milk­maids showed no side effects when they were inoculated, yet they still acquired immun­ity. He knew the maids had caught cowpox from milking diseased cows, and suggested it would be possible to use milder cowpox material for arm-to-arm inoculation. Jenner was successful.

Like Tronchin, Jenner’s ideas were met with immed­iate public crit­ic­ism, based on religious, scientific and political protests. Yet in 1802, Jenner’s supporters in­vited him to join the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences.

Wide­spread vaccination dramatically red­uced mortal­ity rates. Smallpox’s mortality rate in non-inoculated infants reach­ed 80% by the late 1800s; inoculated children had a 0.5–2% mortality rate.

Britain ad­opted state-sponsored vac­c­ination camp­aigns: the first Vaccin­at­ion Act (1853) mandated vac­cinat­ion of infants. If parents refused, they were prosecuted and fined. When small­pox mortality rates re-rose in the 1860s, the second Vaccination Act (1867) ex­tended the age requirement to 14 years.

Andrew Wakefield was struck off in the UK, but feted in the USA 
flanked by supporters ahead of an appearance before the GMC. 
Guardian, 2007 

The laws were met with immediate resist­ance from citizens. The Brit­ish Anti-Vaccination Leagues arose, anti-vaccination journals sprang up and mass dem­onstrations started. In Leicester in 1885, c90,000 people marched to prot­ect the parents of unvacc­in­ated children from fines. In response, a royal commission in­ves­t­igated ev­id­ence both for and against vaccination. The commission sat for 7 long years, leading to a third Vaccination Act (1907).

In the USA, in 1855, Mass­achusetts became the first state to req­uire public-school children to be vaccinated. And by the 1890s, most states had adopted com­pulsory policies. But the Anti-Vacc­in­ation Society of America quickly mobilised using pamphlets, court cases and state legisl­at­ur­es, opposing compulsory vaccin­ation laws and protecting civil liber­ties.

In the landmark Jacobson v Massachusetts (1905), the Supreme Court ruled that the state may be justified in restricting indiv­idual liberty, to protect the general public. So pen­alties could be im­posed on parents who refused to vaccinate their chil­dren.

Relig­ious American communities continued to demand the right to claim exemption from man­dat­ory vaccinat­ion. 45 states allowed moral or philosophical ex­emp­t­ions from mandatory vaccin­ation for enrol­ment in schools, while 5 states only allowed medical ex­empt­ions. Did/do any states allow Distrust Of Science as a reason?

Mandatory vaccination must have worked. There is no evidence of naturally occur­ring smallpox transmission anywhere in the world today.

Smallpox patient with the characteristic late-stage confluent maculopapular scarring, 
Italy, 1965. Wiki 

Now measles, whose symptoms included high fever, cough, watery nose and eyes, with a rash appearing days later. Comp­licat­ions included pneumonia and encephalitis of the brain. As a highly contagious virus with no direct treatment and a notable mortality rate, measles rem­ained a major public heal­th concern. The first measles vaccine was tested in Oct 1958 in Enders’ Boston lab by Drs Samuel Katz and John Enders when 20 children were given an experimental vaccine. When they discov­ered that a killed-virus vaccine did not create the desired immunity, they success­fully tested a safe, live, att­en­uated measles vaccine.

In 1971 Merck Pharmaceuticals developed a vacc­ine that could safely combine measles, mumps and rubella ie MMR. For those parents who could not afford childhood vaccines, public funding programs were quickly established and measles was totally eradicated!

Anti-vaxxer resist­ance to vaccinat­ion had long emerged on both sides of the Atlant­ic, and elsewhere. Even in 1998, a British doctor Andrew Wakefield pub­lish­ed a paper in The Lancet reporting that the Meas­l­es-Mumps-Rubella vacc­ine was linked to 12 cases of autism. So Dr Wakefield call­ed for the susp­en­sion of MMR-linked vaccines! The paper was entire­ly fraudulent and fraught with conflicts of inter­est, but the link with autism is still believed.

To protect mass immunity, the In­fect­ious Diseases Society of Am­erica requires a 95% anti-measles vaccination rate. At that level, the efficacy of vaccin­ation as a public health tool is irref­ut­ab­le, against many highly infectious dis­eases.

Australian anti vaxxer cartoons by Michael Leunig,
Age Newspaper, 2015

So why is measles suddenly resurging? The BBC reported that in 2018 there were 9.8 million cases of measles and 142,000 deaths, the worst-affected countries being D.R Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine. In Aug 2019 alone, the US Centres for Dis­ease Control reported 1,215 cases of measles across 30 states, 75% of them in New York state. And around the world, WHO reported 364,808 new cases by July 2019 - a 150% increase in cases.

In Feb-March 2019, a measles outbreak hit the Philippines with 31,056 measles cases including 415 deaths. 83% of all deaths were children under 5. Measles appeared in the Pacific island of Samoa in Sept 2019 and by Nov, the Government had declared a state of emergency; schools were closed and vaccinat­ions mandated. In Samoa, where the nat­ional immunisation rate had fallen to a low of 30%, 72 precious children died from measles in late 2019!

See Origins for photos, medical texts and critical cartoons.
Dr Joe


Jesse James, the American Civil War and Billy the Kid

Frank James (1843–1915) and his brother Jesse James (1847-1882) were born on a Missouri farmhouse. Their father Rev Robert James was a Baptist preacher who had earlier moved from Kentucky; now he bought a substantial commercial hemp farm with slaves. In 1849 Robert James went to work in Californian gold-rush towns, but died there.

To most people, the story of Jesse James was a part of the story of the Old West - of outlaws, gunslingers and saloons. But the real story was that of the Civil War and slavery. In 1818 the Territory of Missouri had applied for statehood, but the northern states didn't want to admit another slave state.

Jesse James (left) and Billy the Kid (right) 
Both in their late teens 

By 1854, Nebraska Territory applied for statehood. Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, it would be admitted as a free state. The Nebraska-Kansas Act brought the sectarian conflict between North and South to a climax. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln became president on an anti-slavery plat­form and South Carolina announced its secession; the Civil War started.

James' family farm in Missouri had always had slaves, and the county had many Southern sympathisers. Frank quickly joined the local secessionist militia but Jesse, 13, was too young. In Aug 1861, Frank James fought for the Confed­erates at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield Missouri, the first major Civil War battle - bands of guerrillas executed soldiers, prisoners and civilians.

Frank was in a guerrilla group that car­ried out raids and massacres in Missouri and Kansas: Quantrill’s Raiders. So in 1863, Union troops moved onto the James farm looking for Frank and brutally attacked the estate. Including young Jesse.

Perhaps the cruel Union soldiers did promote rebellion in the James brothers. In one action for the Confederate Army, the Quantrill Raiders killed 22 unarmed Union prisoners; in another, they shot 100+ Federal troops who were surrendering. In Oct 1864, Jesse was shot and seriously wounded when his group was surrounded by a Union patrol, ending his Civil War action.

The Civil War ended in 1865 but tensions in Missouri continued. Jesse’s Confederate commander kept his band of guerrillas together, to attack the new Repub­lican state government. The James brothers revolted against harsh post-war civil legislat­ion and their gangs specifically targeted banks staffed by former Union sympathisers. But in 1866 Archie Clement, the pro-Confederate guerrilla leader during the American Civil War, was killed in an ambush by Union militia. Jesse was severely wounded that day.

In Dec 1869, the brothers robbed a bank in Gall­atin Missouri; James executed the bank teller, because he was one of the militia troopers who’d killed Archie Clement. So the Missouri Governor set a price on the James Gang’s heads.

The James brothers then joined forces with another former Con­fed­erate guerrilla, Cole Younger. Jesse began sending political letters to the pro-Confederate editor of the Kansas City Times, condemning the Repub­lic­ans and supporting the Secessionists. A hero, he was defying oppressive Northern occupiers.

Wanted Dead or Alive poster
A valuable reward on Jesse James' head and on his brother, Frank's head

In 1874 Jesse married his long time sweetheart-cousin Zerelda and had two children. Both James brothers were good family men, but they still continued their life of crime – especially train robberies. Natur­ally they were targeted by police throughout the Mid West.

In Sep 1876, the James Gang robbed a bank in Minnesota, and while they were inside, the local citizens surrounded them and opened fire. In the ensuing gunfight, two gang members were killed. Jesse and Frank fled Missouri and hid in Virginia.

By Dec 1881 Jesse had returned to Missouri, acc­ompanied by two trusted brothers, Charley and Robert Ford. Even after the gang had been killed, and their friends the Youngers had been sent to prison for 25 years, the James brothers planned one more robbery with the Fords. Apparently Missouri Governor Crittenden had promoted a reward so large that the Fords turned traitors to earn it. In April 1882, Rob Ford shot Jesse in the skull, killing him instantly at age 34. Missourians considered it a vicious assassin­ation.

Henry McCarty aka Billy the Kid (1859-1881) was born in the New York slums. He moved to Wichita Kansas, and then New Mexico in the early 1870s. Henry quickly adapted to life in the rugged territory and learned Spanish, but his frail mother died of TB in 1874. Ignored by his absentee stepfather, the future gun slinger spent the next year living in boarding houses. 

The Kid’s first trouble came in 1875, when he robbed a shop and hid the goods in his boarding house, but his landlord handed him in. The crime only carried a minor sentence, nonetheless the wiry youth escaped prison and fled town. The Kid worked as a roving ranch hand, gambler and gang member and became skilled with weapons. In Aug 1877 he killed a man in an Arizona saloon.

In the 1877-1881 era, the baby-faced outlaw was in­volved in the murder of many men. But Billy the Kid first became known as a significant gunslinger in 1878, when he participated in a bloody frontier war in Lincoln County New Mexico, regarding a business feud. Tunstall asked the Kid and other gunmen to protect his property. The tensions finally boiled over in Feb 1878, when Tunstall was murdered by Sheriff William Brady’s posse.

Following Tunstall’s death, the Kid and others organised themselves into a revenge-filled vigilante group: The Reg­ul­ators. They assassinated Sheriff Brady and spent months shooting it out with government forces. The Kid left the war reputed to be one of the West’s most skilled gunmen, but he was wanted for Sheriff Brady’s murder. After claiming that he killed more than 20 men, the Kid spent the rest of his VERY short life on the run.

In late 1880, Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett tracked the Kid to a cabin in New Mexico, and arrested him. In the Lincoln courthouse the Kid was found guilty of Brady’s murder and was scheduled to be hanged. But he planned a daring getaway in April 1881, ambushed two guards and killed both. Once in cont­rol of the courthouse, the Kid collected weap­ons and fled on a stolen horse. News­papers across the country made the Kid the most wanted man in the West.

The Younger brothers and the James brothers, 1876

The Kid hid for months on the frontier with locals in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. In July 1881 Sheriff Garrett and his deput­ies rode into town and shot the 21-year-old dead.

Films Billy the Kid was a relatively unknown historical figure until the publication of The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, written by his killer, Sheriff Garrett in 1882. And with the 1911 silent film “Billy the Kid”, he became an even greater celebrity.

Over time Holly­wood transformed James and the Kid from murderous outlaws into young, romantic heroes who were fighting the author­ities. At least one film suggested that Jesse invited the Kid to join his gang, but robbing banks and trains did not interest the Kid. The UCLA Film & Television Archive explored the cinematic history of these two outlaws in its Two Western Myths: Billy the Kid and Jesse James film series in 2010.


The first Metropolitan Police Force: Sir Robert Peel, London, 1829

In June 1780, Londoners saw rioting when the Protestant Ass­ociation protested a minor eas­ing of the then anti-Catholic laws. The suppression of these riots required soldiers, and soon after there was an attempt to establish a professional Metropolitan Police. It failed, due to the hostility of the Lord Mayor and of the City of London Corporation.

So at the beginning of the C19th, Britain did NOT have a nation-wide, professional police force. The first local police force, funded by local taxation, was in Scotland - The City of Glasgow Police was founded in 1800! In those days, Glasgow police undertook more duties than just policing, including fire fighting. 

Robert Peel (1788–1850) was born in Lancashire to a cotton mill owner. He was educated at Harrow and Oxford, and then he entered parl­iament in 1809 as a member of the Tory party. Peel held prominent positions within government early in his career, becoming Under-Secretary for War and Colonies 1809 and Chief Secretary for Ireland 1812.  Peel introduced broad criminal law and prison reform, and established the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1822, to deal with rioting and sectarian violence.

Following the success of the Royal Irish Constabulary it became clear that an organised crime prevention system was needed in Lon­don, a city with a population of 1.5 million people that was policed by only 4,500-nightwatchmen. By the time Sir Robert Peel was Home Secretary in Lord Liver­pool’s Tory Cab­in­et for a second time (1828–30), he had the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 passed in London. The Act provided permanent and paid Metropolitan Police Force constables to protect the capital city & improve public law.

Peelers aka bobbies in long coats and top hats, 1870
photo credit: Getty

Sir Robert Peel
by Sir Thomas Lawrence (who died in 1830)
credit: Tamworth Borough Council

In London the selection rules were quite strict: men had to be aged 20-7, minimally 5′ 7″, physically healthy, literate and have no criminal history. Dressed in long blue tail-coats and strengthened top-hats for protection, policemen began to patrol London’s streets in Sep 1829. The unif­orm was chosen so that the Peelers looked like ordinary citizens, rather than like soldiers with red coats and military helmets. Each Peeler was given a wooden truncheon carried in the long coat pocket, a pair of handcuffs and a wooden rattle/ whistle to raise the alarm.

Many people feared that the police would be used to arrest opponents of the government, stop prot­ests & destroy free speech. Since police were seen as a threat to civil liberties, and some police were seriously harmed by the public, Peel's Principles of Law Enforce­ment were quickly published in 1829:

1.The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2.The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behaviour and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.

3.The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law.

4.The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, to the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.

5.The police preserve public favour by constantly demonstrating impartial service to the law, and without regard to the justice of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, with courtesy; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6.The police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

7.The police should never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary by avenging individuals or the state, or authoritatively judging guilt or punishing the guilty.

Weapons issued to London policemen

Scotland Yard (striped building on the right hand side of the photo)
Victoria Embankment

Why was the legislation slow to be implemented? Firstly the new police were seen by some as a means of enforcing the new Poor Law, which was desperately unpopular. Secondly the system was thought to be too expensive. But mostly there was no provision for government inspection or regulation, so many simply did not bother.

Clearly the policemen’s lives had to be strictly controlled. They worked every day, with only 5 days unpaid holiday per year for which they received £1 per week. They were not allowed to vote in elect­ions and required permission to get married. Nonetheless the initial officers didn’t last. Of the 2,800 new policemen, 2,200 Metrop­olitan policemen were sacked for drunk­enness or for disobeying Peel’s rules. The Metropolitan Police soon had 17 divis­ions, with 4 inspectors and 144 constables each. Under the Home Secretary, the force’s head­quarters were located in Scotland Yard.

Earl Grey’s Whig Government was dismissed in 1834 by the king, who appointed Peel as the new prime minister (1834-5). Although in power, Peel's Tories remained a minority in the House of Commons, so Peel resigned in 1835.

The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 allowed Borough Councils to organise a police force but only half of the 171 boroughs had enacted the law within a few years. The Rural Constabulary Act of 1839 allowed the Eng­l­ish Counties to raise and equip a paid police force. The Act all­ow­ed for one police­man per 1,000 population, but it still did not meet the demand for a national police force. Thus the Metropolitan Police was the controlling power, almost by default.

Still, these policemen became the model for the creation of all the provincial forces; at first in the London Boroughs, and then into the counties and towns.

Peel was prime minister once again from 1841-6. In June 1846, with support from the Whigs, the much hated Corn Laws were finally rep­eal­ed in 1846, splitting the Tory party. When Peel was defeated on another bill, he permanently resigned, dying in 1850.

The police force in London was very effective in reducing crime and increasing detection, yet there were still only 12,000 policemen in England and Wales in the mid 1850. In 1856 73,240 persons were arrested just in London - for drunkenness, larceny, assaults on policemen & prostitution.

In 1869 new telegraph systems meant a Nat­ional Criminal Record could be created, using rapid communications between counties.

Read The Great British Bobby by Clive Emsley, 2009.


St Basil Cathedral in Moscow and Tsar Ivan the Terrible

Ivan IV the Terrible (1530–84) was Grand Prince of Moscow and Tsar of Russia from 1547. His reign saw the completion of a cent­rally admin­istered Russian state and the creation of an em­p­ire that included non-Slav states.

Naturally the Tsar’s aim of military dom­inance over a central Russian state led to many conflicts. In the 1550s his armies defeated the indep­en­d­ent Tatar/Mongol khanates of Kazan and Ast­rakahn. This extended Mus­covy con­trol to the Urals in the east and the Cas­pian Sea in the south, creating a buffer zone against the Mon­gols. Ivan’s second goal was to gain access to the Baltic Sea. However this time he was not as successful in annexing Lith­uania and gain­ing sea access.

Ivan returned to a hero’s welcome in Moscow and to news that his wife gave him a son, though the infant soon died. In Kazan the Mus­lim popul­at­ion was expelled and Russian colonists were moved in, mosques were repl­ac­ed by Russian Orthodox churches and the Tartars of the surrounding country were pressed to convert to Christianity.

 St Basil's Cathedral, Red Square

Tsar Ivan the Terrible
painted by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)

St Basil was a votive off­er­ing, com­m­em­orat­ing the Rus­sian capture of  the Tatar capital, Kazar. The church was at first dedicated to the intercess­ion of the Virgin by the Moat, but it came to be known as the Cathedral of Vasily the Beat­ified/Basil the Blessed. Basil, a contemporary of Ivan the Terrible, was the peasant lad who became holy for Christ’s sake and who was buried in the church vaults.

In St Basil, western academic architectural concepts based on rat­ional harmony were ignored; the structure, with no clear design and many different ex­terior decor­ations, was a strangely medieval Russian form and decoration. No-one would ever confuse St Basil’s in Moscow with, for example, the romanesque Durham Cathedral, the gothic Notre-Dame de Paris or the baroque St Paul’s in Rome.

The flame-shaped roofs of St. Basil's Cathedral, which were said to be based on the colours describing heaven in the Book of Revel­at­ion, were probably not always as colourful as they are today. Before the 17th century, it's likely they were painted white, red and gold. 8 of the 9 domes built on the Cathedral represented the number of att­acks on Kazan, and were originally gold. Small renovations con­t­inued until the mid C19th when the domes were given their cur­rent bright colours and patterns. The 9th dome, the small one to one side, marks the sanctuary of Basil the Blessed.

This cathedral was a great example of the union of Byzantine and Asiatic cultural streams that characterised Muscovite culture. The inter-con­nected chapels, with their doors, artworks and niches, made the interior of St Basil's seem unworldly. The icono­st­asis was a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary.

There were nine tiny chapels clustered around a central nave, each topped with a brightly coloured, onion-shaped dome. The nine small, sep­ar­ate chapels  were aligned to points on the com­pass, four of which were  raised to designate their position between heaven and earth. The first 8 chapels were ded­ic­ated to important events eg the Protecting Veil of Mary; or the Entry into Jerusalem. The 9th chapel was added in honour of St Basil. The inside of the chapels, though quite small, were still richly de­c­orated.

Ivan saw the cathedral’s completion in 1561, yet his rage continued. Now he beat his pregnant daughter-in-law, causing a miscarriage, and killed his son in a fit of rage. And he intentionally blinded the cathedral’s It­alian architect, saying he wanted to ensure that its beautiful de­sign could nev­er be replic­at­ed el­sewhere.  I am not surprised that later, when he died, Ivan was interred elsewhere (at the nearby Archangel Cath­edral). His son became Tsar Feodor I in 1584.

8 of the 9 onion domes featured on St. Basil's Cathedral 
represented the 8 attacks on the Khanate of Kazan

The interior walls are meticulously painted with intricate floral designs and Christian motifs. Explore the very narrow labyrinth of corridors and tiny oratories.

Survival was a fickle issue. The 1812 Fire of Moscow broke out when Rus­sian troops and residents abandoned the city, just as the Napol­eonic troops entered the city. The fire all but destroyed the city, yet St Basil Cathedral was spared! Even Napoleon’s specific order to his troops to blow up the cathedral failed; the fuses lit by the Frenchmen were snuffed by sudden rain. Perhaps Napoleon, real­ising he could not count St Basil's Cathedral among his war spoils, had a hissy fit and demanded it destroyed. Or perhaps the Moscow cathedral offended Napoleon’s architectural taste.

The cathedral’s exterior colour was originally white, to match the Kremlin’s white stone. St­arting in the C17th, the façade be­gan to be paint­ed in the bright colours that are still seen to­day. The colourful ext­erior of the cathedral is constantly maintained by fresh coats of paint.

Moscow’s large open Red Square market area had been the geog­raph­ic centre of Russian life since the C15th. Red Square cover­ed an area of 800,000 sq feet, housing the historic government Kremlin building at its western end. Some beautiful cathedrals were located in Cathedral Square, while other historic sites in Red Square included the State Historical Museum and Lenin’s Tomb.

After Lenin's death in Jan 1924, Stalin grabbed pow­er. St Basil’s became a secular tour­ist attraction, used as a mus­eum. But the church became an obstacle for Stalin’s plans to open up Red Square for political power displays. In 1933, the cathed­ral was deleted from the heritage reg­is­ter. Architect Pitor Baran­ovsky was summoned to do the last survey of the church sched­uled for dem­ol­it­ion, and was then gaoled for refusing to destroy the Cathedral as inst­ructed. By 1937 even brutal Stalin admitted that the church had to be saved.

Red Square in the snow

Only since the Soviet Union ended in 1990 have occasional church ser­vices been held in this cathedral. The Kremlin, cathedral and Red Square were named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990. However St Basil’s Cathedral is neither the city’s main cathedral, nor the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow.


Ocean Liners exhibition: great speed and stunning style

I am passionate about two aspects of early C20th history: ocean liners and Art Deco. In 2018, a V&A exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style had my name all over it. It rekindled the era’s gorgeous Art Deco glam­our of ocean liners.

Speed & Style was the first international exhibition devoted ocean liners; strange, given that maritime disasters, public romances and the bright poster art of shipping companies have been part of popular culture for decades. In their Inter-War heyday, rival Brit­ish, French, German and Italian ships dashed across the Atl­antic.

As the largest machines of their age by far, ocean liners became powerful symbols of progress and modernity. No other form of trans­port was so romantic, so impressive. From the late C19th to the mid C20th, the ocean liner revolut­ionised ocean travel. So the exhibition wanted to explore the design and cultur­al impact of the ocean liners.

Model of the Queen Elizabeth
5 ms long

Beginning with Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship, the Great East­ern ship of 1859, the exhibition traced ocean liner design - from the Beaux-Arts interiors of Kronprinz Wilhelm, Titanic and its sister ship, Olympic, to the floating Art Deco palaces of Queen Mary and Normandie, and the streamlined SS United States & QE2. It examined all aspects of these ships' design, from innovative engineering and fashionable interiors, to the lifestyle on board. Plus it examined the impact on art, architecture, design and film.

The exhibition displayed the golden age of ocean travel with 250+ objects eg film clips, publicity posters, branded crockery, haute couture dresses and luxury luggage. Children loved the engine-room telegraph made of teak and brass that the P&O ship Canberra installed in its nursery, and the small captain’s wheel.

Especially clothes! The exhibition showcased one of the most imp­ortant flapper dresses in V&A's collection, Jeanne Lan­v­in's Salambo dress, displayed at my all-time favourite Exp­os­ition Internat­ionale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. Also the Christian Dior suit worn by Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950. And there was a handsome Lucien Lelong couture gown worn for the Norman­d­ie’s maiden voyage in 1935.

Maison Goyard luggage and Dior suit, 1950 

Publicity posters
from shipping companies

A precious Cartier tiara, recovered from the Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915, was beautiful, as was a lacquered wall from the Smoking Room of the French lin­er, Normandie, and  Stanley Spencer's painting The Riv­eters from the 1941 series "Shipbuilding on the Clyde". The display also feat­ured works by Modernist artists, designers and architects inspired by liners including Le Corbusier – and revealed the largely forg­ot­ten history of leading artists and designers who contributed to their design eg William De Morgan and Richard Riemerschmid. Be still my beating heart!

The 5 ms-high lacquered gold panel was part of the art deco int­erior on the French ship Normandie and was loan­ed to the V&A from the Paris Museum of Modern Art. It was 5 ms high and was the lat­est expression of French luxury design.

A golden wall panel from The Normandie, 
1935, 5 ms high

Decorated doors, panels and furniture
The SS France, 1912

Speaking more architecturally, the Ocean Liners exhibition explored how the structures on board changed as the requirements of new markets shifted attitudes, as well as the democratisation of travel and development of leisure activities in the C20th. It also considered the shrewd promotional strategies used by shipping companies to re­position the on-board experience, as emigration gave way to asp­ir­at­ional travel, and highlighted the political shifts and the int­ernational rivalry that developed over 100 years, as liners became floating national showcases.

No wonder the objects being displayed were expensive. Curator Ghislaine Wood said the Normandie, which travelled between Le Havre and New York in the 1930s, was “luxury beyond the means of most people. A ticket for two passengers on the Normandie in 1935 was about £17,000 in today’s money”. Unsurprisingly, the 1st class decks were full of royals, actors, society beauties and magnates.

It was less luxurious in the lower decks. More cramped and less decorated, few migrants would have described their experience as attractive. And yet, far more than the stained-glass ceilings, libraries and string quartets on the upper decks, the ships on which the migrants sailed were actually very well designed both for speed and heavy seas. A 22ft-long model of the Queen Elizabeth revealed how proud the liner’s owners were of its pleasing form: creat­ed in 1940 to stand in the window of Cun­ard’s Broadway offic­es. And an entire wall was given over to a rippling blue sea, crossed by a series of computer-generated liners trailing smoke from their funnels. The exhibition care­fully remembered the tech­nology that made this poss­ible, and the 1.4 million European migrants who left for the New World in 1913 on which the trade’s profits were originally founded.

The exhibition was a cooperative work between the V & A and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Mass; it then moved to the Scottish V&A in Dundee. The project was sponsored by Viking Cruises.

The QE2, built to cross the Atlantic in wint­er, was among the last of the big ships shaped by design traditions rooted in the late C19th. So now the old ocean liner is remembered only via modern culture, literature and films. They demonstrate how nostalgia for the great Floating Palaces of the past can still be felt today.

Fans might like to order a beautiful book that accompanied the V & A exhibition, written by Daniel Finamore (2018).


A very surreal Salvador Dali and a very dodgy Belgian art dealer

With his trademark wax moustache and pleasure from giving lect­ures in bizarre settings, Salvador Dali (1904–89) thrived on court­ing con­t­roversy and enjoyed a wildly eccentric lifestyle. Throughout his life, his detractors said the man was more concerned with cul­tiv­ating his own avant-garde im­age than the quality of his artistic output. Friends staunchly defended the Spanish painter, say­ing that he simply lived his brand of surrealism as much as he painted it.

Three Dali films were written, revealing just how much Hollywood loved Dali stories decades after the painter’s death. The first film to appear was Little Ashes (2008), a biography star­ring Rob­ert Pattison about Dali’s avant-garde teen years in 1920s Madrid. The film centred around his sexually ambiguous friendships with the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca and aspiring filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

The 2nd film, Dali, was to be directed by British film-maker Sim­on West, and to star Antonio Banderas as Dali, with Catherine Zeta-Jon­es as his hot wife Gala. It would explore how the painter conqu­er­­ed America and the world with sex, sin and sur­realism, only to succumb later to world wide scandal and misfortune. But was the film produced?

The third and most cont­roversial film, Dali & I: The Surreal Story, came from a 2008 book by little known Belgian art dealer, Stan Lauryssens (born 1946).  His book alleged that most of Dali’s works were faked and were done so with the artist’s approv­al. This sent shock waves through an art world which was long used to str­an­ge Dali stories.

Dali & I: The Surreal Story, 2008 
by Stan Lauryssens 

In Spain, where Dali was a national hero, Lauryssens’ book caus­ed outrage. This was apparently because A] Lauryssens portrayed the art­ist and his wife Gala as two insatiably charged lovers who reg­ul­arly sh­ared in orgies with famous actresses. But I wasn’t sure about the out­rage - rather I thought the Spanish would semi-admire Dali’s exotic sex life. B] Lauryssens told how he sold thousands of fake Dali paintings and how Dali approved of the fake-Dali indus­t­ry

The Salvador Dali Foundation, which controls Dali’s estate, vig­or­ously denied many of the claims made in the “Dali & I” book, and threatened to sue Lauryssens. When the book, which has been transl­ated into 33 lang­uages, was released in Spain, the Foundation said: The contents of “Dali & I” lack the most minimal credib­ility and were only part of a promotional campaign for the book and the film. Of course Hollywood was going to be attracted to this shock­ing book!

Long before he entered the fake art world, Lau­r­yssens had been inv­olved in many other dodgy activit­ies. He later moved into journalism where he pretended to interview a host of Hollywood celebrities for a Belgian magazine. In 2 years he had fake-inter­viewed every major Hollywood star, including Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando.

In 1972 Lauryssens turned his attention to Salvador Dali. He made up a great story about how Dali and Walt Disney were working on a cart­oon together. That story caught the attention of a shady investment group in Belgium who assumed Lauryssens was a Dali expert and hired him as a fine art dealer. So, at just 25, Lauryssens found himself flying around Europe buying up Dali paintings, despite having no prior experience in the world of fine art.

Lauryssens thought that some Dali’s less popular stuff was dis­taste­ful to look at, so it was very hard to find buyers. Eventually he was introduced to some of Dali’s entourage who said the best mon­­ey could be made in selling fakes because they were the items that tended to have his most popular elements, like the melting clocks. The more he indulged in fake Dali works, the more Laurys­sens uncov­ered a world where fake prints, sculptures and litho­gr­aphs were created by the people closest to Dali. In fact probably 75% of all the works attributed to Dali were not done by him.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Salvador Dali was able to churn out thousands of artistic pieces - paintings, scul­ptures, prints, lithographs and photographs. And from the 1960s on, the fakes were clear­ly with the painter’s alleged approval since Dali needed a truckload of cash each month to fund his lavish lifestyle. In any case, Dali readily admitted he had made enormous sums of money by signing hundreds of quick sketches and lithographs which would then sell for huge profits.

Persistence of Memory, 1931 
by Salvador Dali 
a surrealistic image of melting pocket watches, at MoMA

Dali himself was an enormous fan of film which he believed was a superb medium for surrealist art. He didn’t create films him­self, but he contributed to other peo­ples’ surrealist film-making from 1930 on. Dali coll­ab­orated with Alfred Hitchcock to produce the famous dream sequence in his 1945 thriller Spellbound. Hitchcock called on Dali to use his surrealist vision to build a bizarre set that could re­­present a dream. A 1946 collaboration with Walt Disney was aban­d­oned only 3 months into production, after Disney ended the pro­ject. "Destino" was only resurrected and redone by Disney’s nephew, Roy, and a team of French animators in 2003, long after both Disney and Dali had died!

In the early 1980s, before his prison stint, Lauryssens moved next to Dali in his seaside villa in Catalonia. The dealer said that Dali had lost his hair, his stomach was swol­l­en and his limbs shaking. It was all a far cry from the flashy show­­man. 

Lauryssens was finally tracked down by Interpol in the late 1980s and served two years in gaol for selling forgeries. He did not deny his part in the art crimes. And in the end, Lauryssens made and lost millions in modern art, selling Salvador Dalí fakes.

Yet the surrealist's work must have been a hot commodity for shady businessmen, looking to launder their cash. After all, when Dali died from heart failure in 1989, his estate was worth a huge $87m!


First registered nurse in the world. Yay New Zealand!

In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation on earth to enfranchise its female citizens. Now for another New Zealand first.

New Zealander Ellen Dougherty was born at Cutters Bay, Marlborough in 1844. Her father had been a whaler before estab­lish­ing a whaling station at Port Underwood in Marlborough Sounds. Then the family moved to Wellington where dad was ap­pointed harbour pilot. They lived in the pilot-house at Palm­er Head near Lyall Bay, where Ellen and the other children spent their time in boats and expl­oring the bush on horseback. Education was home-based.

After her father's death in 1857, Ellen and siblings were raised by their mother, who opened a boarding house in Wellington. Ellen worked first in a Wellington pharmacy and then, from 1885, she worked at the Wellington District Hospital. She completed a cert­if­ic­ate in nursing in 1887, studied elementary anatomy and physiol­ogy, and became head of the hospital's accident ward.

In 1893 Ellen became matron of Palmerston North Hospital. On arrival she found very little money av­ailable for providing bas­ic materials for the hospital. Her priority was to ensure a suf­fic­ient supply of linen because, pre-antibiotics, hospitals req­uired clean linen to help prevent infection.

Matron and nurses outside Palmerston North hospital c1900.
Photo credit: Pressreader

Matron Ellen Dougherty had the assistance of two nursing staff, whom she brought from Wellington, and two part-time med­ical off­icers. The nurses worked demanding 12-hour shifts and more, because Palmerston North was then a centre for the North Island's main trunk railway line, for bush-clearing and for saw-milling. Accid­ents were common and doctors were not always avail­able. So Dough­erty had to set broken limbs, dress wounds and even amp­utate limbs. And she ran the hospital's dispensary at all hours.

In 1899 she was formally registered as a pharmacist.

At her retire­ment in 1908, Palmerston North's hospital had grown to twice its original size when she had first become the chief admin­is­t­rator. A single lady, Ellen Dougherty retired to Carterton to be near members of her family. She died there in 1919.

So my biggest question is “why did a hardworking but ordinary nurse like Ellen Dougherty become so famous”? I would have expected Britain under Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) to be the first nat­ion to register nurses, but Nightingale strongly opposed state registration because:

1. nurses in the late 1880s and 1890s were not educated well enough to be registered as a profession.

2. the proponents of state registration wanted to exclude working-class nurses, in order to make nursing a profession for ladies only. Nightingale wanted competent working-class women.

3. Registration proponents did not distinguish adequately between medicine and nursing

4. the state registration proposal for registration was inadequate and

5. she disliked the dishonesty and lack of profess­ion­al ethics expressed by the campaign's leaders.

The training of nurses in New Zealand had also been rather ad hoc. During the 1880s some hospitals began to offer training and acc­omm­odation on-site, to attract more respectable women into nurs­ing. As more women entered the profession, there was increased demand for improved conditions for both nurses and their patients.

Ellen Dougherty, c1895
matron of Palmerston North Hospital

A major advocate for professional nursing in New Zealand was Grace Neill. This Scottish woman had been trained in nursing in Charing Cross Hospital London, then emigrated to Aust­ralia and later New Zealand. For a number of years, Mrs Neill trav­elled around New Zealand visiting hospitals, but transport was poor and communities were isolated. Standards were so variable that Mrs Neill strongly recommended standardised training services.

Grace Neill was made Assistant Inspector in the Department of Asyl­ums and Hosp­it­als from 1895 on. In 1899, she spoke at the congress of the International Coun­cil of Women in London, calling for a national system of regist­er­ing trained nurses. Those who passed a final exam after undergoing training could then be regist­ered.

After 2 years of camp­aign­ing, the Nurses Registration Act 1901 was enacted, followed by introduction of State Examination throughout the country. Mrs Neill had drafted the necessary regulations, defined the curriculum and appointed the examiners.

Thus New Zealand became the first country to have formal legislat­ion for the registration and regulation of nurses. As in all New Zealand acts requiring professional registration, the grand­father clause allowed registration of any nurse with 4+ years experience.

In Jan 1902, Ellen Dougherty was the first nurse in the world to be formally registered!

Nurses were trained in a 3-year training scheme in hospitals, and sat an examination at the end. Successful candidates were reg­is­tered. Nursing became more specialised; women could train as a general nurse, psychiatric nurse or nurse who specialised in intellectual disabilities.

Until 1904 most midwives received no formal training. Government concern about high maternal and infant mortality rates led to the Midwives Act 1904. Soon midwives were trained at seven St Helens hospitals throughout New Zealand.


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