Erin Spinney

Assistant Professor

History and Politics, Department of

Hazen Hall 343

Saint John
1 506 638 2452

Erin Spinney is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. She teaches British and European History with a focus on the history of medicine, environmental history, gender, and imperialism. She also specializes in teaching the history of Canadian nursing and healthcare to health sciences students, and co-teaches HEAL 1001, the foundation course in the Bachelor of Health at UNB Saint John.

Dr. Spinney received her BA (Hons) in History (2010) and her MA in History (2011) from the University of New Brunswick. Her PhD was awarded by the University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Her PhD dissertation, “Naval and Military Nursing c. 1763-1830,” which examines the work of women nurses in the Royal Navy and British Army, won the American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN) Teresa Christy Research Award. From 2018-2019, Dr. Spinney held an AMS Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine (now called the Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology) at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Saint John she worked as an Assistant Professor (term) in the History Department at Mount Allison University (2019-2020), and as a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Lethbridge where she taught online from 2020-2021.

She is involved in the activities of several associations and societies. Dr. Spinney is currently the President of the Canadian Association for the History of Nursing (CAHN) and the webmaster for CAHN and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. She is also the Associate Book Review Editor for the Nursing History Review, the journal of the AAHN.

Areas of supervision

Dr. Spinney would be happy to supervise history honours and MA theses, and PhD dissertations, in the following areas:

  • History of Nursing
  • History of Medicine
  • Environmental History
  • Early Modern Britain
  • Social History of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Royal Navy
  • Women’s Labour in the British Atlantic World

Bachelor of Health Honours:

  • Society and Health majors

Invited talks

Dr. Spinney has given invited talks for the Royal College of Nursing, the University of Exeter, Birkbeck, University of Oxford, and the University of Virginia. Given the virtual nature of events during the Covid-19 pandemic some of these talks are available online:


Spinney, Erin. “Women’s Work: Nurses, Orderlies, and the Gendered Division of Care in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era British Army Hospitals.” Nursing History Review 31 (2023): 127-149.

Spinney, Erin. “Ship Plans Primary Source Case Study.” In Research Methods and Primary Sources by Adam Matthew Digital. 2021.

Spinney, Erin. “Environment.” In A Cultural History of Medicine: In the Enlightenment, edited by Lisa Smith, 13-28. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.

Spinney, Erin. "Servants to the hospital and the state: nurses in Plymouth and Haslar Naval Hospitals, 1775-1815." Journal for Maritime Research 20(1) (2018): 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/21533369.2018.1513394

Viktor Pál, Roberta Biasillo, Elena Kochetkova, Tayler Meredith, Simone Schleper, and Erin Spinney. “Emerging Scholars in the Age of Uncertainty: Goals and Plans of ESEH Next Generation Action Team in 2018-19. Environment and History 24 (2018): 579-581.

Web publications

Erin Spinney. “Where have all the books gone? Researching and Writing During Covid-19?” Active History (Oct. 26, 2021).

Erin Spinney. “Finding the Black Nurses of the Royal Navy.” Royal College of Nursing Bulletin. (Oct. 4, 2021).

Erin Spinney. “Black Before Florence: Black Nurses, Enslaved Labor, and the British Royal Navy, 1790-1820.” Nursing Clio (17 Dec. 2020). Peer reviewed.

Erin Spinney. “Ventilation, Ideas of Health, and 18th-Century British Military and Naval Hospitals.” Environmental History Now (4 Dec. 2020).

Erin Spinney. “Forgotten Carers: How digital methodology illuminates female nursing in 18th century British Naval Hospitals.” Unwritten Histories (14 August 2018).

Erin Spinney. “Proper Nurses: Regulating Nursing Care in the Royal Navy and the British Army in the 18th Century.” Nursing Clio (6 Sept. 2017). Peer reviewed.