Rosemary wall

Dr Rosemary Cresswell

Senior Lecturer in Global History

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

01482 465608

Rosemary Cresswell (formerly Wall) is a historian of medicine, health and humanitarianism who is currently writing the history of the British Red Cross.

She is also being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to research the history of first aid in Britain and France, 1909-89.

Rosemary studied Economic and Social History as an undergraduate and History of Science, Technology and Medicine at postgraduate level.

She held postdoctoral research roles at the University of Oxford and at King’s College London, before undertaking a temporary lectureship at Imperial College London, joining the University of Hull in September 2012.


Research Interests

  • History of medicine, health, humanitarianism and war, 1850-2010

  • History of the British Red Cross

  • History of first aid

  • Colonial nursing

  • History of infectious disease

  • Medico-legal history

Research groups

Principal Investigator for a new project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, ‘Crossing Boundaries: The History of First Aid in Britain and France, 1909-1989’, working with Co-Investigator Professor Barry Doyle at the University of Huddersfield, and post-doctoral researcher Dr Stefan Ramsden, University of Hull, who worked on the project in 2016-17.


Wall R, Bacteria in Britain, 1880-1939, London: Pickering and Chatto (2013)

Wall R and Hallett C, ‘Nursing and Surgery: Professionalisation, Education and Innovation’, in Schlich T (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (2017)

Wall R and Rafferty A M, 'Trouble with “status”: Competing models of British and North American public health nursing education and practice in British Malaya', in Pols H, Thompson M and Warner J H (eds.), Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia, pp 67-94, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press (2017)

Wall R, ‘Complaining about typhoid in 1930s Britain’, in Reinarz J and Wynter R (eds), Complaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine: Historical and Social Science Perspectives, , pp 184-201, Abingdon and New York: Routledge (2015)

Wall R and Rafferty A M, ‘Nursing and the “Hearts and Minds” Campaign: Malaya, 1948-1958’, in D’Antonio P, Fairman J A and Whelan J C (eds), Handbook on the Global History of Nursing, pp 218-236, New York: Routledge (2013)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Heritage and Modern War (Level 4)

  • Animal Histories (Level 6)

  • Practising Modern History (Level 7)

  • Research Project Management (Level 7)

  • MA Dissertation (Level 7)

Research PhDs

Rosemary welcomes enquiries from students interested in the history of medicine and health, and humanitarianism in a British, colonial or international context. She is willing to consider other areas of the modern history of Britain, Empire, and of war.

Current PhD supervisions 

  • Rebecca Cessford (1st Supervisor) (full-time, 2015-), Heritage Consortium AHRC PhD Studentship co-supervised with Jo Buckberry, University of Bradford, Stannington Sanatorium for tuberculous children: A potential use of radiographic imagery in reporting on tuberculosis in non-adult human remains.

  • Nicole Cochrane (1st Supervisor) (full-time, 2014-), Heritage Consortium AHRC PhD Studentship co-supervised with Claudine van Hensbergen, Northumbria University, Appropriating Antiquity: Greco-Roman Sculpture and the British Public 1770-1900.

  • Bronia Cross (2nd Supervisor) (full-time, 2014-), Interdisciplinary University Studentship, co-supervised with Elsbeth Robson and David Atkinson in Geography, Producing the Historical Geographies of European Childhood in Colonial Africa: Children's lives in twentieth-century Nyasaland 1889-1964.

  • Jacqueline Hayes (2nd Supervisor) (part-time, 2014-), Heritage Consortium PhD student co-supervised with Natasha Vall, Teesside University, The emergence of open-air education in industrial and de-industrialising society during the first half of the twentieth century with particular reference to the concept of the ‘delicate child’.

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, King’s College London, 2009-11

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • BA (Hons) Economic and Social History, First Class, University of Liverpool, 1999-2002

  • MSc History of Science, Medicine and Technology, Distinction, Imperial College London and University College London, University of London, 2002-2003, funded by the AHRB

  • PhD History, Using Bacteriology in the Hospital and Society: England, 1880-1939, Imperial College London, University of London, 2003-2007, funded by the AHRC

External roles

  • Secretary for the Society for the Social History of Medicine

  • Interviewed for Witness, ‘Florence Nightingale,’ BBC World Service, 10 August 2017

  • Quiz participant, representing History at the University of Hull, on The Third Degree, BBC Radio 4, 19 June 2017

  • Interviewed for Science Stories, ‘Florence Nightingale: Statistician', BBC Radio 4, 18 May 2016

  • Interviewed for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Inside Out, 'Polio in Hull, 1961', BBC1, 29 February 2016.

  • Three contributions to WW1 at Home for BBC Radio Humberside and BBC Look North, 27 and 28 February, and 11 November 2014, discussing medicine and the First World War, in particular the Red Cross hospital in Hull, where J R R Tolkien was a patient

  • Collaborative colonial nursing research developed with scriptwriter Vanessa Rosenthal, colleagues, and retired colonial nurses, for BBC Radio 4 plays, Passages from Empire, 3-7 November 2014

  • Consultancy for BBC History and Science, Knowledge and Learning Online, 2015

  • Collaborated with Geoff Browell, at KCL Archives, and Centre Screen Productions, on Navigating Nightingale, a multi-media walk app (2011)

  • Podcast, ‘Surplus Women: The First World War and Its Impact on Emigration, Work and Marriage’, First World War: New Perspectives Podcasts, University of Oxford Podcasts, released 29 October 2012

  • '‘Surplus Women’: a legacy of World War One?’, World War 1 Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings, University of Oxford and JISC Open Educational Resource, posted 8 October 2012

  • Invited academic to the very first editathon linking academics with wikipedians, JISC/Wikipedia World War One Editathon, British Library, 16 June 2012

Awards and accolades

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Early Career Research Grant, ‘Crossing Boundaries: The History of First Aid in Britain and France, 1909-1989’ (2016-18)

  • University of Oxford Bodleian Libraries Sassoon Visiting Fellowship, ‘War, Humanitarianism and the British Red Cross’ (2017)

  • Rockefeller Foundation Grant-in-Aid for visit to Rockefeller Archive Centre (2010)

Professional highlights

  • Organised a variety of public engagement events for the 150th anniversary of the Nightingale School of Nursing which is now part of King's College London (2010-12)

  • As part of the above, co-organising, curating, and introducing films for the weekend film event ‘Screening the Nurse: Call to Service’, Imperial War Museum (February 2010)

  • Working on the Navigating Nightingale multi-media walk app - which was available for free from iTunes - in collaboration with Geoff Browell at KCL Archives, and Centre Screen Productions (2011)

  • Lead curator of public exhibition, ‘The Thinking Nurse’, at the Florence Nightingale Museum, London, (February-June 2012)

  • Providing historical content for an all-building evening spectacular at the Wellcome Collection on nursing past and present, entitled ‘Handle with Care’ (September 2010)