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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The New Nurses: 1914

The New Nurses: 1914

Washington, D.C., circa 1914. "Georgetown University Hospital graduating nurses." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Class of 1914

As the grandson of the "sweet-faced young woman on the far left," I can verify that this is the Georgetown University Nursing School Class of 1914.

They look like ER nurses!

No lie. About a year ago I was in a ER at our local large city Hospital. I had a blood clot in my lungs caused by surgery the week before. I swear they all look just like these fine ladies but meaner.

Soooooooooooo! times have not changed over the years. BUT I was glad to have them they did save my life. Even though they scared the hell out of me. All kidding aside nurses save lives and I do appreciate them.I bet they were really pretty girls when they did smile though.

Good night nurses

Instead of the usual "Everybody smile" that photographers usually blurt out before snapping the shutter, it looks like this one yelled "Tenj hup!" And as a token gesture, they're all holding their diplomas like rifles, but other than that, not showing much enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, they all look like they just finished a 12 hour shift.

Caption Balloon

First Row, extreme right: "Roll over please, tonight is enema night!"

Post 1912

I reviewed the Washington Post archives trying to find out information on this specific class of nurses. From 1908 to 1912, the Post published the names of all graduates and a short piece on the commencement speaker. After 1912, the commencement exercises were apparently not as newsworthy. Given the class size in the photo, it must be 1913 or later. Class sizes for the published years are: 1908 (5); 1909 (3); 1910 (3); 1911 (10); 1912 (11, the largest class to date).


Top row, second from left - nice mustache, dude.

Uniformly uncomfortable

I can't think of a single season in the DC area when this would have been a comfortable working uniform. I think they would be hot, sweaty, and chafe year-round for any nurse actually doing hard work bathing or moving a patient or running around a busy ward.

15 good reasons

not to get sick.

Kathy Bates

I don't think I want the nurse in the front left to tend my health needs--she may be my number 1 fan!

Love a woman in uniform

Back in the days of yore when nurses wore white uniforms you could tell who was in charge in the wards. Today every employee in a hospital wears scrubs, so you can not tell if you are talking to a nurse, records clerk, or a custodian, or the lady who will groom my dog at the vet clinic, or the receptionist at the dentist. These starched white uniforms loudly proclaim authority and responsibility for patient care.

National Nurses' Week

The local hospital just ran a pic of nurses in whites for National Nurses' Week. Brought back memories of my late aunt starching and ironing her caps. So much more professional looking.


The high stiff collars give a look like the faces are pasted on -- think intro to Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Men Don't Make Passes

However, the two women in the back row wearing spectacles do look more intelligent.

Facial expresssion tells it all.

That "sweet-faced young woman on the far left" looks more like, "Autoclave? Why bother, he's going to die someday anyway."

Those collars!

It makes me wonder if wearing neck rings was part of the training. Some of them look like they are ready to choke. And those bibs look to be absolutely bulletproof. If they could see the comfy "uniforms" that are worn now...

See here

Quick, everybody look in a different direction!

Real pros

Now that's a uniform! It doesn't look easy to work in -- indeed, would this be what they wore for everyday work? -- but the very sight of all that clean and pressed white cotton is reassuring. Most of them seem quite young, but they look so capable.

(Well, that sweet-faced young woman on the far left in front looks more like "Are we done yet? Can I go now?" But I feel that way about posing for group pictures myself.)

Daily Quiz

If you were really, really sick, which of these ladies would you prefer to see walking into your room? There are lots of choices such as efficient, kind, bossy and even clueless.


2nd row, left hand side. I think she was the nurse that catheterized me.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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