Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Lyle Creelman

Lyle Creelman: The Frontiers of Global Nursing

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 448
  • Book Info
    Lyle Creelman
    Book Description:

    In telling Creelman's fascinating story, Susan Armstrong-Reid helps readers learn about the transformation of the nursing profession and global health governance in the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6712-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xviii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-2)
  5. Chapter One The Formative Years, 1908–1936
    (pp. 3-22)

    Lyle Creelman was born on 14 August 1908 in Upper Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, the heart of the local agrarian and lumbering community. The only child of a second marriage, she was the youngest of eleven children. Six years after his first wife, Marianna (née McDonald), died in 1901, Lyle’s father, Samuel, then fifty-four, married a distant cousin, Laura Creelman of Portaupique, Nova Scotia.¹ At first it appeared that baby Lyle might share the fate of her four stepsisters – all of whom had died before her birth. Years later, the nurse who attended Laura recalled the complications surrounding Lyle’s entry into...

  6. Chapter Two New Beginnings, 1936–1939
    (pp. 23-44)

    As a public health nurse, Lyle Creelman could expect to deal with everything from tuberculosis and infectious diseases to maternal and child health clinics, armed only with “the revolutionary tool applauded by social reformers during the progressive era – education.” Contemporaries argued that public health nursing presented more than the opportunity to spread the gospel of health: “It also offered the chance to fulfil women’s highest career aspirations.”¹ The reliance upon the nurse’s intelligence and education carried the implicit expectation of greater professional autonomy and personal freedom among the UBC graduates who answered the call to service. Whether Creelman’s first permanent...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. Chapter Three The Shadow of War, 1939–1944
    (pp. 45-70)

    As the threat of war cast its dark shadow over Canadian society, Lyle Creelman was busy with last-minute preparations before her return to work. Awaking at 6:30 a.m. on 3 September to prepare for her first day at the office, she turned on the radio to hear the news that Germany had invaded Poland. Canada declared war on Germany seven days later. Few Canadians, including Creelman, fully grasped the unimaginable human suffering that would be unleashed or the level of economic and human resources that the Allies would need to mobilize to defeat Hitler. The war shattered millions of lives...

  9. Chapter Four Soldier of Peace, 1944–1946
    (pp. 71-105)

    The end of the Second World War on the European front was celebrated on 8 May 1945. The peace that followed, however, did not convey the same meaning for every country or, indeed, for many individuals within those countries. The upheaval that war had wrought on countless lives simply continued. National borders had been transformed and allegiances reshaped, but there was a host of questions about who would orchestrate the transition to peacetime and how it would be done.

    Creelman, like other Canadian UNRRA nurses, was just as eager to serve as a soldier to win the peace in the...

  10. Chapter Five Setting a New Course, 1946–1949
    (pp. 106-122)

    Creelman’s time with UNRRA had offered challenging work that made a real difference in people’s lives. With that experience now behind her, the transition from the frenzied activity of international nursing to the more sedentary pace of peacetime Canada was more difficult, both personally and professionally, than she anticipated.

    During her time abroad, Creelman had become increasingly uncertain of what professional opportunities would open up or how her strained relationship with Dick Pullen would shape her future career decisions. She knew that it would be unfair to Trenna Hunter to return to her previous position. Accordingly, she put out feelers...

  11. Chapter Six Joining the WHO, 1949–1951
    (pp. 123-142)

    On the last day of July 1949, as her plane made its final approach over the sunlit Alps, Lyle Creelman caught her first glimpse of the beautiful blue waters of Lac Léman surrounding Geneva – the city that would be her home for the next nineteen years. Recruited by fellow Canadian Dr Brock Chisholm, the first director general of the World Health Organization, Creelman was one of two nursing consultants appointed to the WHO Secretariat in 1949. Her work in this new specialized agency of the United Nations, envisaged as the permanent directing and coordinating agency for international health, would propel...

  12. Chapter Seven Establishing the Nursing Section, 1951–1952
    (pp. 143-163)

    The year 1951 proved a turning point, both for Creelman and for international nursing. It was then that something she and Olive Baggallay had adamantly fought for – the creation of a Nursing Section within the WHO – came to fruition, with Baggallay as the section’s chief nursing officer. Although officially her rank was public health nurse, Creelman functioned as Baggallay’s deputy. The nature of her job did not change in its essentials, but the responsibility increased. Her promotion broadened her personal and professional horizons, setting the stage for her to assume the top position three years later.

    The early 1950s were...

  13. Chapter Eight From Deputy to Chief, 1953–1960
    (pp. 164-193)

    In 1953 there was a changing of the guard at the top of the WHO, with Brock Chisholm being succeeded as director general by the Brazilian Marcolino Gomes Candau,¹ who would retain the post for twenty years. Whether pushed or simply disillusioned by the politics of the Cold War, and worn out by the years of struggle to achieve his ideal of global health, Chisholm had little interest in another term.² Creelman renewed her contract only after learning of Candau’s appointment: “There could not have been a better choice,” she wrote.³ Creelman had become acquainted with Candau in 1950 after...

  14. Chapter Nine Lyle’s Secret Service, 1954–1968
    (pp. 194-216)

    Creating an internationally minded cadre of well-qualified nurses, at a time when there was a global nursing shortage, remained a critical challenge throughout Creelman’s tenure with the WHO. As CNO, her responsibility to forge a sense of shared identity and provide effective oversight for her staff – recruited from different countries and, often, with different training backgrounds – presented administrative challenges well beyond her previous international experience in UNRRA. Despite repeated requests for additional staff to meet its expansive administrative responsibilities within the WHO’s increasingly far-flung operations,¹ the Nursing Section at headquarters remained incredibly small. In these circumstances, the selection of senior...

  15. Chapter Ten The Voice of International Nursing, 1960–1968
    (pp. 217-242)

    During the 1960s, a period of particular global turbulence, Lyle Creelman became the unparalleled voice of international nursing. Respected by colleagues, she directed the WHO’s Nursing Section with skill and confidence, and nurses around the world routinely turned to her for support and advice. In turn, friendships formed within the international nursing community, sustaining both her social and professional networks, were especially important to Creelman as she navigated these hectic years. She continued to rely upon the leadership network for direct help, political intelligence, and reassurance. Recognizing, however, that WHO nurses could not effect sustainable change alone, Creelman also encouraged...

  16. Chapter Eleven A Chance for Retrospection, 1968
    (pp. 243-265)

    Changes in leadership, Lyle Creelman discovered, came with opportunities, challenges, and increased anxiety. In 1968, on the eve of her retirement from the WHO, Creelman continued to prepare the Nursing Section for the upcoming transition. The Freeman report and the fifth expert committee on nursing had been strategic pieces of that succession planning. But her successor had not been appointed and there was no assurance that Creelman’s preferred candidate, Lillian Turnbull, would be confirmed. For the moment, she was busy making plans for a trip to Africa, specifically Kenya, Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, and Senegal, from 26 February to 30...

  17. Epilogue, 1968–2007
    (pp. 266-280)

    Some change is hard. Not surprisingly, for Lyle Creelman, leaving Geneva, the centre of her exhilarating professional and personal life for almost two decades, triggered considerable emotional ambivalence. After years full of clear purpose, her pending retirement felt void of direction; her future plans remained uncertain. But gradually, although “sad to leave Geneva,”¹ an “international centre where people from so many countries are passing through,” she convinced herself that she had “missed being part of a local community.”² Retirement in Canada also offered the prospect of re-establishing closer ties with family and friends. Did it signal the start of an...

  18. APPENDIX A Metropolitan Health Committee of Greater Vancouver, 1938
    (pp. 282-282)
  19. APPENDIX B Ratio of Public Health Nurses to Population, British Columbia, 1942–3
    (pp. 283-283)
  20. APPENDIX C Functions of the World Health Organization
    (pp. 284-284)
  21. APPENDIX D Headquarters Organization, July 1946
    (pp. 285-285)
  22. APPENDIX E The Nursing Section within WHO
    (pp. 286-286)
  23. Notes
    (pp. 287-356)
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 357-378)
  25. Index
    (pp. 379-404)