Susan Armstrong-Reid | College of Arts

Susan Armstrong-Reid

Photo of Susan Armstrong-Reid
Adjunct Faculty
1018 Mackinnon Extension


Ph.D. University of Toronto, 1982
M.A. University of Toronto, 1977
B.A. University of Toronto, 1975



Adjunct Faculty, Department of History
University of Guelph, 2012-2018

Recent Honors and Awards

American Association for the History of Nursing, Lavinia Dock Research Award,  2018

American Association for the History of Nursing, H-15 Research Grant,  2016

Lillian Sholtis Brunner Fellowship, Barbara Bates Centre for the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, 2012-201



My research progressively seeks to give voice to and interrogated nursing’s complex and contested contribution to global health and humanitarianism. As nurses carved out personal and professional space within the global healthcare landscape, they acted as agents of change even as they were profoundly altered by their cross-cultural experiences. The resulting ethical, political, and professional tensions, recovered through nurses’ narratives from the field, weave across my scholarly publishing to provide a more textured understanding of nursing’s past, present, and future direction. Like other Western historians, I grapple with the concept of speaking up for Indigenous nurses’ agencies and not speaking for them.

My journey to push the boundaries of the scholarly conversations across disciplines continues. My next monograph, entitled: “Rice Paddy Diplomacy; the Quakers’ and Canadians’ Medical Engagement in South Vietnam,” will compare and contrast two civilian clinics operated in the village of Quang Ngai: the Quaker Rehabilitation Centre and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Tuberculosis Hospital. How did these civilian nurses negotiate space given the military’s campaign to win the heart and minds of Vietnamese people? Canada did not officially participate in the war and therefore remained technically neutral. Was the Quaker operation, as it always claimed, more culturally attuned and independent of Americans military forces than its Canadian counterpart. What lessons does this case study reveal about the challenges and opportunities for nurses’ medical humanitarian diplomacy in the 21 Century?

My current research complements my teaching at the University of Guelph. My FYS seminars, simulating a twelve-week training courses at a humanitarian institute, are highly interactive inquiry-based courses that span disciplines. The socio-economic determinants to health and its central role in meeting basic human security in the 21st Century, especially as it relates to children’s rights, at home and abroad, provide the central focus of inquiry for both courses.





china gadabouts, lyle creelamn, armies of peace

The China Gadabouts: The New Frontiers of Humanitarian Nursing, 1941-1951 (Uinversity of British Columbia Press, 2017).

Lyle Creelman: The Frontiers of Global Nursing (University of Toronto Press, 2014).

with David Murray, Armies of Peace: Canada and the UNRRA Years (University of Toronto Press, 2008).


Chapters in books:

Susan Armstrong-Reid, “The UNRRA Nursing Brigade.” in Christine Hallet, The History of Nursing: Major themes in Health and Social Welfare. (London, Routledge: 2015)

Susan Armstrong-Reid, “Two China gadabouts: Guerrilla nursing with the Friends' Ambulance Unit, 1946-8” in Helen Sweet, Sue Hawkins, eds. Colonial Caring: A History of Colonial and Post-Colonial Nursing. (University of Manchester Press: 2015.)



with David Murray, “Canada and UNRRA,” Canada’s History Magazine (Winter 2012).

 “Soldiers of Peace: The UNRRA Nursing Brigade,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History / Bulletin canadien d'histoire 27, no. 1 (2010).

“Soldiers of Peace in the China Convoy: Edward Abbott and Francis Starr,” Canadian Quaker History Journal 72 (2007).