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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Student Nurses: 1942

Student Nurses: 1942

Sept. 1942. Rochester, N.Y. "Shirley Babcock at right in the front listening to a lecture with other student nurses." Latest installment in the Babcock saga from the camera of Ralph Amdursky for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

Posed

I get a kick out of some of the more obvious posed shots. The student nurses appear to have their books open to different pages, one is looking at the camera and another is trying very hard not to laugh out loud. I love these!

Shirley has some mends on her stockings, I bet in 1942 they were fairly expensive to buy. As for the shoes, I had to wear them (with the white uniform) back in 1970 in beauty school too. Talk about going through a LOT of white shoe polish!

Nursing uniforms vs. Scrubs

I believe scrubs were brought into style for nurses (and surgeons) because they are easy for hospitals to launder and are cheap to replace if irreparably stained.

I can only imagine how difficult it was to keep these white uniforms clean when you're a nurse coming into contact with all types of bodily fluids. That said, they are quite classy.

Nurse's Caps Minutia

Since every one is texting about those caps, they actually ment something. Each nursing school had its own individual cap design. So if you we're in the know, you could tell which school your nurse had attended. The one that I remember the most was from Mount Sinai (in NYC). It was a small puffed pill box made out of transparent liaise, very different from the normal designs.

In the back, pay attention!

Yeah, you, the cute one looking into the camera!

My grandmother went through RN training in the '20s and had a lot of funny stories about it. They ran nurses training pretty much like a military school, with room inspections and bed checks. Since I went to a military school (Norwich U in Vermont), I could really associate with all the things they did as a result (like greasing door knobs when the inspecting head nurse came around, etc.)

White caps and duty shoes

Although today the entire hospital staff seems to wear whatever they choose in the area of multicolored and printed "scrubs" with no headgear I'm guessing it was easier in '47 to tell the R.N.'s from the gift shop volunteers. I once inadvertently insulted an M.D. by requesting she bring me a cup of water. I thought she was a high school 'candy striper'. And as for the phrase "everybody is on the same page" this is not true in this study group. It looks as though some are in the front of the book, some in the back and some in the middle. Still I'm so thankful for the dedication and healing abilities of all those in the medical profession. I would not be here today if it weren't for their caregiving.

The blandness

Of rimless glasses!

Wicked shoes

Those nurse shoes remind me of the shoes (in black) that my maternal grandmother (1897-1983) used to wear when I was a kid in the sixties. Even then, they struck me as old fashioned and belonging to a certain character type. My grandmother didn't have it easy (widow with three kids in the Depression), and she could be tough and mean when the situation called for it. The solid heels on those shoes had a crisp and distinctive sound, and they meant business. Much as I respect her and what she stood for, the footwear always seemed to me to be distinctly witchy.

Little White Hats Were the Best Part

Ahhh, the extinct nurses uniform. I'm lucky enough to remember when nurses actually dressed like this. Now you would have a hard time telling the difference between nurses, doctors, orderlies and janitors in a major hospital. They all wear the same thing, scrubs (pretty much pajamas) and those hideous plastic Crocs shoes.

 
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