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Nurses: 1928

Nurses: 1928

December 1928. "Washington Sanitarium. Takoma Park, Maryland. Office of Inpatient Nurses." View full size. National Photo Company glass negative.


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Re: Optical delusion

Not only did doctors smoke ~ like a huge portion of the adult population in general, but the images of doctors, and even some nurses, were used to advertise certain brands of cigarettes in magazines. I say "images" because I can't be sure if they are actual medical professionals, or actors posing as doctors and nurses every time. I'm sure that there were likely some doctors who took advantage of the financial benefits provided by such "support" of the rich and powerful tobacco industry.

I collect vintage magazines, particularly from the WWII era, and it's quite common to find more than one ad in a single magazine, including the back cover, in full color of course, extolling the virtues of the particular brand in question. Soldiers, sailors, Marines, nurses, WACs, WAVEs, etc., were all shown in various advertising campaigns as well doing likewise, but I think only in painted images, not actual photographs. I don't recall any particular individual being represented. The first "real persons" I recall being aware of advertising cigarettes were movie, and later, TV stars. And then there was the infamous "Marlboro Man." Who died of lung cancer if I recall correctly.

Cigarettes were considered the normal accompaniment of the rest of an adult's personal items ~ wallet, watch, keys, purse with lipstick and compact for the ladies, cigarette case, lighter or matches, a wedding ring as required ~ nobody was considered completely dressed without those items.


On the desk there is an issue of a magazine called "Nursing," possibly an issue of The American Journal of Nursing.

Optical Delusion

At first glance saw the door as a mirror. The "reflection" didn't match, creeped me out just a tad.

Also, re "ashtrays" on a nurse's desk, I remember when people smoked everywhere. Once I went with my mother to a doctor's appointment and the doctor was smoking. Ahhhh, good times.


The exposed pipes remind me of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil".

It reminds me of a Vermeer.....

for me it's more like Edward Hopper if he'd visited a friend in the hospital.

Neat and Tidy

Personally, I love the clutter-free simplicity. And the motel room key tag.

More like a Hopper

The isolation of the subjects, even facing in different directions... they're in the same office, but are as separate as they can be. Also, the time period works better for Edward Hopper than Vermeer.


Look in the middle/top part of the photo, there is a pull cord hanging there. There is most probably a bare bulb at the other end of that cord on the ceiling lighting that room. Nothing fancy, all utilitarian.

[The cord plugs into an adapter that screws into the bulb socket of the ceiling fixture. - Dave]

Nurses 1928

Certainly a neat, organized desk - little paperwork. My paternal grandmother became an RN in 1918 after my dad was grown. Three of her great-great-granddaughters also became RN's in the same hospital.


Things I love about this photo:
The paperwork never ends.
Extension cord hanging from the ceiling.
Desk phones.
Tiny wall calendar on the "Nurse's Creed" plaque.
Her cap (I still have one of my mom's)

What a beautifully composed shot. It reminds me of a Vermeer.


That's a glass inkwell desk set, not ashtrays. Still, a sign of the times.


They don't seem to be using any indoor lighting. Was that a money-saving thing?

[An example of what the social scientists and anthropologists call "projecting." - Dave]

Get Well Soon. Or Else.

Heh. I read that as the Office of "Impatient" Nurses.

"C'mon, haven't got all day here, get a move on!"

Actually they look very patient.

Nurses: 1928

A glass inkwell was a sign of the times too.

A Sign Of the Times

Ashtrays on the nurse's desk! Nice.

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