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Calendar reveals vintage nursing ads

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Rare adverts featuring nurses from yesteryear feature on the Queen’s Nursing Institute’s new calendar for 2013.

The illustrations are taken from the “Nursing Notes and Midwives Chronicle” going back to 1900, and “The Queen’s Nurses’ Magazine”, founded in 1904 and published under various names until the 1970s.

Few of the adverts have been reproduced again until now.

The drawings show in detail the uniforms, equipment, accessories and therapies that nurses and midwives used in the early to mid 20th century.

Popular items were the “Celebrated Midwife’s Case”, the “Flora” Apron, the “Grevillite Portable Sterilizer” and the “Dawsonn Improved Invalid Chair”.

Acting QNI director Anne Pearson said: “Vintage advertisements provide a whole new perspective on the history of nursing through the 20th century.

“One only has to look at the floor length dresses worn by Edwardian nurses, and contrast them with the knee length skirts of the 1960s, to see how radical this change was.”

She added: “Nurses will also find the prices interesting, though they are given in ‘old money’.

“In 1930 – during the Great Depression – a nurse’s coat cost 39 shillings and six pence – about £1.99 in today’s money – but as wages then were also much lower, this would have been an expensive item.”

Ms Pearson said she hoped the calendar would prove to be a “thought-provoking and entertaining talking point” for nurses.

The calendar is available for £5.99 from the QNI’s online shop, with all proceeds from sales going to help support the QNI’s charitable work.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • we need to issue all of our community and hospital nurses with Corgis - would save on fuel and solve the parking charges problems. At £45 a piece the NHS could afford to supply them to whole work force.

    Great picures. More might be found in old versions of 'The Lady' which was always full of ads looking for nurses and carers.

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  • Florence

    My Friend is in her 70's and is a retired Matron. She would love one of these calendars. Im going to order her one for christmas. My Friend is a strong woman who did sucessfully manage to marry up the role of Manager and nurse. That is no easy task with the expectations placed on Managers now. I look at my ward manager and she looks exhausted and stressed out nearly every day.
    My friend helps me maintain my sense of perspective on the various dilemmas we face in our profession.And reminds me that we do actually have more power as nurses than we often realise.
    And she strongly believes in nurses being active in professional associations . She does keep up to date with current issues and doesnt deny that she is actually glad not to have to face the issues we are facing now.
    But she reminds me never to lose sight of the fact that as Nurses we do make a huge difference to peoples lives and that we should never under estimate the value of what we do.
    Im a Band 5 Nurse, one of the more '' vocal'' ones on our ward. One of the most important things Ive learned over the years is that if all staff at all levels are given the oppertunity to be listened to and feel respected. Then surprise surprise there is more teamwork and adaptability to change!! Common sense really. However some senior managers dont embrace this principle and thats where resentment begins to develop and mutual respect disappears.
    I love nursing and I feel sad and frustrated and at times powerless over some of the issues we face.
    Thats the days when I pick myself up, remind myself of why I became a nurse in the first place and continue to speak up for my patients and colleagues.
    As a nurse you have to be emotionally , mentally and physically strong. And I know that I sometimes forget that I actually do have that strength inside me. And sometimes I need to help someone else who has forgotten that they actually do have the strength too.
    Change has to begin inside of us all before we can change anything else. And as a nurse I sometimes feel I lack the skills to effect change. Thats not true.
    So basically what Im trying to say is that the more we do to value ourselves more as a profession. The more our value will be acknowledged.
    Thats my rant for the evening... I have tried to persuade my retired matron friend to falsify her birth certificate and come out of retirement... Sadly she declined .

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  • delightful article. nurses in those days also worked under very difficult conditions and maybe they always have and always will. but I wonder if they grumbled as much as young nurses do today. I believe not and think they felt privileged, grateful and very proud to have a job of their choice.

    I hope commentators will appreciate this page for what it is and not turn every discussion into a moan about their conditions. as much as I have great sympathy for the current state of affairs there are plenty of other pages for this and it is also good to appreciate nursing as it was and take an interest in the history of the profession and all of its successes instead of constantly focussing only on its failures.

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