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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Navy Nurses: 1912

Navy Nurses: 1912

Washington, D.C., circa 1912. "Navy Hospital nurses." Dry plate glass negative, Harris & Ewing Collection. View full size.

 

Nautically inclined

Nurse on the far left would make a good ship's figurehead.

Real women

I work with these women, such real faces. They've seen the suffering and been competent and caring, and kept sailors hands from wandering.

In fact, I think I know the granddaughter of the third one from the left. She'll crack a joke while changing a nasty wound dressing.

Wasp Waists

My vote is for the corset, which girls started wearing when they were very young. These torture chambers altered the bone structure as the girls grew, even to the point of displacing internal organs from their natural positions. My grandmother was still wearing one in the 1940s and it sure made her unhuggable -- kind of like a padded refrigerator.

Battle ...

ship. Is that a model through the window on the right? How whimsical in a no-nonsense environment.

Cinched

Now I know the meaning of "wasp-waisted" and "hourglass figure." Just look at those tiny waists and notice that even the big-boned ladies still have proportionally small waists. Perhaps it was the old whale-bone corsets but if these were natural, we need to know their secret.

Give them a break

No make-up and that old-lady hairstyle; presumably minimizing the chances of funny business with the sailors. But the one on the far left looks like fun.

But they're comfortable?

Only one (that we see) wearing white shoes, and nary a Croc in sight!

Different caps

I've been an R.N. for over 30 years, as has my husband. The caps are indicative of where the nurses trained -- looks like most of these ladies went to the same school. Also, just a very few years prior to this, nurses actually had much more actual training than medical doctors.

Honest

I found this photo illustrating my Funk & Wagnall's entry for "dyspepsia."

Nurse tiaras

I miss nurse caps. If I were a nurse I'd wear mine to work every day. Well probably not, but I'd wear it around the house like I were a queen.

Clean freaks

My grandmother was a surgical nurse during that era. The only weapon they had to combat infection was for the area to be spotlessly clean. That's how her house was! Look how clean they are. Contrast that to most hospitals today.

Concerned, dedicated, caring!

What an evocative photograph. It's a group photo but the expressions of these faces reveal how dedicated these nurses were. Viewing it I was touched. Each and every one of these women are expressing that they are concerned and caring. Much more than just a group photo!

Now, don't anyone smile!

They're a grim looking lot, I'm not sure I'd want to be treated by any of them.

A spectacle of herself

The one on the far right needs eyeglasses. She's all fuzzy

 
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