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The 1800's

Welcome to An Illustrated History of Nursing Uniforms, where decade-by-decade we take a look at different uniforms from a variety of disciplines, countries, rank and sex of nurses. 

We begin our collection with three asylum nurses from the late 1800's. 


Before modern nursing was founded in the 19th century, nursing was generally undertaken by nuns, so very early nursing uniforms were based on the nun's habit. Florence Nightingale helped to establish nursing as a more professional career during and after the Crimean War, and as a result the uniforms began to evolve - it was one of Florence's nursing students who designed the first incarnation of a nurses uniform with frilly cap and apron. The long gowns were worn to protect from infection and were called 'fever-gowns', however no gloves or masks were worn. Note the large bunches of keys on our genial asylum nurses belts.