The history of nursing through postcards

nurse 2 post

Rural visiting nurse Elizabeth McPhee, Scotland, 1926

Nurses and nursing have been frequent subjects of postcards for over 100 years. The Zwerdling Postcard Collection, part of the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine includes over 2,500 postcards.

This unique archive consists of postcards with images of nurses and the nursing profession from around the world, produced between 1893 and 2011. The postcard is a widespread art form influenced by popular ideas about social and cultural life. Nurses and nursing have been the frequent subjects of postcards for over one hundred years. In fact, no other art form has illustrated the nursing profession so profusely using such a variety of artistic styles and images.

nurse 5 post

A reproduction of Army Nurse Corps recruitment poster for WWII, 2001
National Library of Medicine.

These images of nurses and nursing are informed by cultural values; ideas about women, men, and work; and by attitudes toward class, race, and national differences. By documenting the relationship of nursing to significant forces in 20th-century life, such as war and disease, these postcards reveal how nursing was seen during those times. Visit the online exibition at the National Library of Medicine website.

For articles about nursing in Portugueses, see:






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