The History Of American Nurse’S Uniforms


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  • Many inaccuracies, starting with the significance of the black stripes on the caps. Too bad much of the narrative cannot be read, it spills off the slide.
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The History Of American Nurse’S Uniforms

  2. 2. Presenting A researched timeline and evaluation of the history of a nurse’s uniform. The purpose of this project is to display, in the form of a presentation, the gradual development of the trends of past nursing attire worn by health care professionals in the United States of America. Nurses play a huge role in our every day lives and I have created this presentation for no other reason than to honor their hard work and dedication. My mother, Yvonne Brown, is one such nurse.
  3. 3. Florence Nightingale, founder of Nightingale Training School for Nurses Florence Nightingale’s legacy is that she opened the first official nurses’ training program in 1860. Before this, the sick were taken care of in monasteries by monks and nuns. It was looked down upon to be a nurse and it was not considered professional. When she founded the school, she became known as the Lady with the Lamp, for patrolling the halls of the hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War. She is today accredited as a pioneer of modern day nursing. She also had contributions to writing and statistics.
  4. 4. 1899 Graduating class of the Connecticut Training School of Nursing The Connecticut Training School of Nursing was founded to model the Florence Nightingale’s School of Nursing in England. Florence had turned nursing in to an honorable profession. The girls in this photograph at the future Yale School of Nursing, carry
  5. 5. th Beginning of the 20 Century The nursing uniform for this time is a stiff, white pinafore over a floor length dress and frilly-looking caps. There is not much about this uniform that is functional or constructive. They are very professional looking as this is the first decade that Nursing becomes considered an honorable career. The picture on the right is from 1906, about 7 years after the one on the previous slide. But you can see the obvious consistencies with the puffy sleeves and frilly caps.
  6. 6. World War I Nurse’s Ward Uniform During WWI it became necessary to produce uniforms which were easy to wash and mass produce. This is where the bleak grey cotton crepe uniform came in. The American Red Cross brassard was strictly worn my the Red Cross nurses during this time. Uniforms of this time become a little more practical and are often coupled with shoulder- covering capes called tippets such as in the photograph on the right. These images were photographed by Joel Feder between 1917 and 1919
  7. 7. World War I Operating Room Uniform Also during World War I, in the operating room and in dressing of patients, a long “unromantic” white apron came about, addressing the still existent laundry crisis (Nurses and the U.S. Navy). The easy production and exchange of this garment made tending to multiple patients easier and more sanitary. The nursing profession became highly sought-after at this time and made this new apron a “badge of service coveted by thousands of untrained women” (Nurses and the U.S. Navy). Photographed by Joel Feder.
  8. 8. 1920’s-1930’s Uniforms The nursing uniform becomes much more practical. The hem rises to mid calf and the dresses are not quite as bulky. In 1924 it is required to have the hem 10 inches off the ground and in 1929 it was changed to 12 inches. Some also reflect current trends with a dropped waistline. Caps are now far less elaborate and they begin to display their ranks through the buckles and straps.
  9. 9. 1930’s: Pre-World War II The picture on the left is an earlier nurse’s 1930’s uniform. The cap is a new military nurses cap introduced in 1929. The hem is now 12 inches from the floor and the caps are standard of the military nurses. The picture on the right is of a nurse, Jeanita Griffin, taken in 1938, just before
  10. 10. 1940’s Nurses Outfits and Caps Still very starched and stiff, the nurses uniforms become more simplistic and the major change we see in this time period is in the caps. They now have stripes denoting the rank of a nurse depending on the number of years she has served. These nurses are showing off the elaborate styles of caps known up to this time and are wearing the common cap found in the 1940’s. In 1948 the National Health Service is
  11. 11. The “Golden Age” A “Golden Age of Uniforms” begins in 1950 as the Nursing industry becomes more popular. Long sleeves are replaced by short sleeves or are rolled up with arm cuffs. At this time it became required for all nurses to own a cape. During the mid to late 1950’s the nurse’s cap evolves in to a more pillbox
  12. 12. 1960’s In the 1960’s the necklines begin to open up and many are peter-pan styled. The aprons now button on to the front of their shirt dresses and are fitted at their waists. Tights are the new stocking and it is now not uncommon for a male to join the work force. As you see in these stills from popular TV shows, the nurses are portrayed with fashionable belts and frilled cuffs.
  13. 13. 1970’s The caps are now paper and disposable. The stripes still indicate the number of years a nurse has been a student or in training. A “National” standard is put on the uniforms and they become blue and white checkered as seen on the right. Although politically disagreed upon, private healthcare takes off and gives way to uniforms such as in
  14. 14. The end of the “Golden Age” In the 1980’s disposable aprons replace the cloth ones. The caps and capes eventually fad out to non-existence. It now becomes acceptable to wear make up, jewelry and accessories. Dresses are now practical and comfortable and incorporate “action pleats” shown here (Philswords).
  15. 15. Nursing Today These style changes gradually evolved in to what we know today as “scrubs”. They can be seen in practically every pattern on practically every nurse across america.
  16. 16. Work Cited quot;Florence Nightingale - Hero Workshop.quot; The Janus Center.  22 Apr. 2009 < >. Museum of Health Care - Welcome to the Museum of Health  Care! 06 May 2009 <>. quot;Nurses and the U.S. Navy, 1917-1919.quot; Naval History and  Heritage Command. 06 May 2009 < e8d.htm>. quot;Philswords.quot; Nurses Uniforms - Past & Present. 22 Apr. 2009  <>.