Greetings from iainthepict. This blog of mine is meant to be like a 'Book of Days' or a kind of 'Scottish Year Book' if you will. The idea was to present an event for each day of the year. Somewhere in here, you can find out what happened, affecting Scotland and the Scots, on any given day of the year. Your comments and observations are very welcome.
The photograph is by Sam Perkins (check him out on Facebook at Sam Perkins Photography) and was taken near Oban.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane

Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane, the Scottish social reformer and author, was born in Edinburgh on the 27th of May, 1862.

Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane was born into quite a notable family, with some of her more famous relatives including Robert and James Haldane, the noted evangelists. She was also the younger sister of the physiologist, John Scott Haldane, and the politician, Richard Burdon Haldane, Viscount Haldane of Cloan, who became Secretary of State for War and then Lord Chancellor. Elizabeth was the daughter of Robert Haldane and Mary Elizabeth Haldane (née Burdon-Sanderson), who was the paternal grandmother (known to the family as ‘Granniema’) of another famous Scottish reformer and author, Naomi Mitchison. Not a bad pedigree for the wee lassie. Incidentally, Elizabeth was christened ‘Elizabeth Saunderson’ but the additional ‘u’ is likely to have been a clerical error.

Elizabeth Haldane was educated privately and after studying nursing, worked in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where she became Manager. Throughout much of her adult life, she served on various regulatory and advisory boards related to the nursing profession and championed the cause of opportunities for woman in the learned professions and in their advanced education. She was very active in female emancipation and she was in the forefront of the pre-World War I movement for British women’s rights, which won her widespread fame.

She was also interested in social welfare and became keenly interested in the improvement of housing conditions. In 1884, she founded an organisation to redevelop some of Edinburgh’s worst slums. In that project for slum reconstruction and the management of social housing, she was influenced by the English housing reformer, Octavia Hill. Later, in 1914, Haldane became Britain’s first female trustee of Andrew Carnegie’s United Kingdom Trust, which role she used to good effect in helping to keep alive the venerable London institution, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Ballet Company. Elizabeth Haldane was decorated with the award of Companion of Honour, in 1918, and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Law, by St. Andrews University, in Fife. And, in 1920, Haldane became the first woman to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace in Scotland, which office she held in Perthshire.

Amongst her other notable public achievements, Elizabeth Haldane became the Vice-Chairman of the Territorial Forces Nursing Services. After the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907, which made provision for medical and nursing support to be available to the volunteer army, Lord Haldane established the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) in March 1908. One of the twelve women he invited to form a Territorial Nursing Council was his sister Elizabeth. The group met for the first time at the War Office on the 16th of June, 1908, to discuss the steps to be taken to form a nursing service for the Territorial Army.

The TFNS was inaugurated in July, 1908, and the enrolment of staff for the twenty-three hospitals began. Elizabeth, as vice-chairman of the Council, together with Alfred Keogh, toured Scotland and the provinces, holding meetings with the express aim of recruiting trained nurses for the TFNS. In the spring of 1909 a TFNS committee began the process of selection of staff for the new service. By the beginning of March, 1909, all four Scottish hospitals were up to establishment. Later, a public meeting held at the Mansion House, London, on the 15th of March, 1909, for the purpose of attracting interest in the TFNS, was attended by six hundred nurses attached to London hospitals. Amongst the many well known speakers, were Elizabeth Haldane, and Isla Stewart, the charismatic matron of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Writing under the pen name of E. S. Haldane, Elizabeth also had an academic career in which she wrote several biographies and both translated and edited a number of classical philosophical works. She was a noted author in her own right, writing a ‘Life of Descartes’, whose great philosophical works she also translated and edited, in 1905. Not satisfied with one philosopher, she then translated the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Showing her interest in female authors, she also wrote commentaries on George Eliot and Mrs. Gaskell.

In 1911, following her previous work on Descartes and together with G. R. T. Ross, she published a translation of Descartes’ ‘Meditations on first Philosophy’. This was based on both the second Latin and French editions, but in some places providing an alternative reading from the French text. In that same year, the pair produced a two-volume set, which was the ‘Philosophical Works of Descartes’.

The list of books Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane authored is as follows:

Descartes: His Life and Times (1905, biography)
The British Nurse in Peace and War (1923, non-fiction)
George Eliot and Her Times: A Victorian study (1927, biography)
Mrs. Gaskell and Her Friends (1930, biography)
The Scotland of Our fathers: A Study of Scottish Life in the Nineteenth Century (1933)
Scots Gardens in Old Times (1200-1800) (1934)
From One Century to Another (1937, memoir)

Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane never married and lived at Cloan, in Auchterader, where she died, in St. Margaret’s Hospital, on the 24th of December, in 1937.

The surname Haldane comes from medieval times and is generally considered to be locational, perhaps derived from Haldane’s Mill in Dumbartonshire. It could be derived from the phrase or expression ‘healf-dene’ (‘half Dane’), therefore, reminiscent of Danish or Viking origins. The name was one of the earliest surnames recorded anywhere, with the first known reference being to Goduuinus Halden, in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. The surname also gets an early mention in Scotland, through one Roger Haldane, who was the holder of sixty acres of land outside the castle of Scardeburc, in 1255. There is also a reference to Elmer de Haldane of Gleneagles, who rendered homage to the short lived Republican Government of William Wallace, in 1296.

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