Call to Action: a History of Nurse Activism in the Netherlands




20th Century, Activism, Image, Material Culture, Nurse Protest


Literature on nurse protests in the Netherlands is usually focused on the Witte Woede, a series of protests during the period 1989–1991. It is framed as a one-off, stand-alone event. Outside of these events, nurse protests and nursing activism are mostly invisible. This research calls for more diverse perspectives on nurse protests. Using objects and photographs from nursing history collections, we explore the under-researched history of nurse protests in the Netherlands. We analyse the media portrayal of earlier nurse protests to clarify why we do not remember them today. The objects analysed illustrate how nurses have at times positioned themselves as agents of change when their patients or profession needed it. We argue that such objects can be used to further debunk stereotypes of the apolitical, non-activist nurse.