SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

The Sterilizer: 1922

The Sterilizer: 1922

"Nurse, 1922." National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5
To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Why is this scary?

Until very recently, this was the process for sterilizing all surgical instruments. A high-pressure hot water bath clensed them of blood and other debris; they were put into an autoclave.

Nowadays, in the hospitals were I have worked, most of the instruments are disposible, since the cost in labor, equipment and energy to sterilize them is more than what they are worth.

I would bet that in a lot of other countries, and maybe even older hospitals in the US, the process and equipment looks pretty much like this.

Joseph Feather, RN


Three water valves. Hot, cold and sparkling.

A Sterile Experience

My grandmother was a nurse, and told me that around WWI she used to take a horse-drawn cutter into farm country in the winter to deliver babies. (What I mean is to assist at the delivery - it wasn't the FedEx Stork Division). Fast forward to 1960, just before she retired, when she used to give me tours of the hospital facilities. The room used for recycling and sterilizing was identical to the photo. Hypos and their needles were sterilized, as well as surgical instruments, then sent around again (the needles were resharpened on a whetstone). Apparently almost everything is discarded today.

I don't know what Dave means by the left foreground - there's nothing there. The autoclave is in the background at the right.

[Look closer. On the left, wearing white shoes. - Dave]


this one scares me just a little....

The actual sterilizer...

... is the steam autoclave in the background around the corner. The nurse is preparing to dip the instruments in a wash tank prior to the actual sterilization process.

[Actually the "actual sterilizer" is in the foreground, on the left. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD 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.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.