Nurses Across Time

Women who have dared to make a difference throughout history.

When Sebastian was discovered to be a Christian in 286 CE, he was tied to a tree and pierced by arrows. Irene, a Christian widow, found him and nursed him back to health. Devout women in the early church were some of the very first official nurses.
Elizabeth Fry, a healthcare reformer in England, established a school for nurses in 1840, about the time this tiny portrait was painted. This school provided minimal training for nurses and was the first of its kind in England.
A young nurse is shown caring for a patient in the Hospices de Beaune, a hospital established for the poor in France in 1443. This hand colored daguerreotype was taken in 1848.
Mary Seacole was a Jamaican born nurse who became well known for her nursing care during the Crimean War in the 1850's. She was the daughter of a Scottish soldier in the British army, and she was a peer of Florence Nightingale, who also cared for soldiers during this war.
During the American Civil War, Dorothea Lynde Dix served as the Superintendent of Army Nurses. She was one of the very first nurses to care for the mentally ill, and she worked tirelessly toward the establishment of many of the first mental health facilities in the United States.
Clara Barton was a pioneer nurse who cared for soldiers on the battlefield during the Civil War. She became known as the "Angel of the Battlefield." After the war, the ran the office of Missing Soldiers. During a trip to Switzerland in 1869, she was inspired to start the American branch of the Red Cross.
A nurse is seen in this painting assisting the doctor at the bedside of a patient who is receiving a saline intravenous infusion. IV therapy was first developed in the 1830's, however, it was not widely used until the 1950's.
In the cloister of an abbey in France, three nurses are depicted caring for a soldier sitting up in a bed. This was one of several hospitals established in France during World War I.
A nurse is seen at the bedside, caring for a woman in her home, as her four children look on. Visiting Nurse Associations were very popular during the late 19th century and early twentieth century here in the United States. These were the first home health agencies.
Three Russian nurses are seen napping on a bench at the end of a long hard shift. Nursing is a 24 hour job and most hospitals have 12 hour shifts. This means long days or nights leaving many nurses completely exhausted by the end of their shift.
Lowitja O'Donoghue is an Aboriginal Australian nurse who studied at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. She became the first black nurse in southern Australia. She went on to become the chairperson of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
This triptych contains the portraits and words of hundreds of nurses from the city of Philadelphia, in addition to medical symbols and historical nursing imagery. It provides a glimpse into the way nursing has changed over the years and the increasing skill and responsibility that nurses have today.
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