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Fascinating photographs reveal the tireless work ethic of nurses in the late 19th century

These rarely seen photos that offer a fascinating insight into British nursing in the late 19th century appear in a new book.

They show how the nurses not only cared for patients, but also made meals for them and did their laundry.

That was their savage work ethic, it may be surprising that they had time to be pictured while they were sitting together in the nurse’s dining room.

One photo shows nurses in training during a first-aid class, while the other has a busy male ward.

In the days before medical records were stored in computer files, patient documentation was simply cut over beds.

Nurses work in the wash. In addition to all their other duties, in 1912 nurses also had to work in the kitchens and laundry, Holloway, London

Nurses work in the wash. In addition to all their other duties, in 1912 nurses also had to work in the kitchens and laundry, Holloway, London

Another photo shows the primitive-looking equipment nurses being used in a laboratory, while several present the pioneering nurses from that time.

Their esteemed ranks were Florence Sarah Dacre-Craven, the founder of modern district nursing, and the first Inspector General of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, Rosalind Paget.

The images are published in A history of nursing, by former nurse Louise Wyatt, who has mapped out the development of nursing from ancient times and the Middle Ages to the present.

The book A History of Nursing was written by Louise Wyatt, a former nurse who has mapped the history of the profession

The book A History of Nursing was written by Louise Wyatt, a former nurse who has mapped the history of the profession

A laboratory nurse in 1930. A selection of heavy copper pots is depicted and the laboratory is tiled on the floor and walls. The nurse with apparently primitive-looking equipment

A laboratory nurse in 1930. A selection of heavy copper pots is depicted and the laboratory is tiled on the floor and walls. The nurse with apparently primitive-looking equipment

The book A History of Nursing was written by Louise Wyatt, a former nurse who has mapped the history of the profession from ancient times and the Middle Ages to the present.

Verbandles on nurse training in Tredegar House. These rarely seen photos that offer a fascinating insight into British nursing in the late 19th century appear in the new book

Verbandles on nurse training in Tredegar House. These rarely seen photos that offer a fascinating insight into British nursing in the late 19th century appear in the new book

Verbandles on nurse training in Tredegar House. These rarely seen photos that offer a fascinating insight into British nursing in the late 19th century appear in the new book

In addition to all their other duties, in 1912 nurses also had to work in the kitchens and laundry, Holloway, London. Author Mrs. Wyatt said: “This book examines the history of nursing by examining the earliest records of the health care profession, how it progressed and what set it off to become the nursing we see today

The dining room of the nurses depicted in St Bartholomew's Hospital. That was their savage work ethic, it may be surprising that they had time to be pictured while they were sitting together in the nurse's dining room

The dining room of the nurses depicted in St Bartholomew's Hospital. That was their savage work ethic, it may be surprising that they had time to be pictured while they were sitting together in the nurse's dining room

The dining room of the nurses depicted in St Bartholomew’s Hospital. That was their savage work ethic, it may be surprising that they had time to be pictured while they were sitting together in the nurse’s dining room

There is a chapter dedicated to pioneering nurse heroine Florence Nightingale.

Nightingale was one of 38 volunteer nurses from Great Britain who went to medical stations in Turkey during the Crimean War to help.

She became the face of the effort after a newspaper called her “the lady with the lamp.”

When they arrived, they discovered that many of the soldiers died, not from their wounds, but from diseases such as typhus and cholera, which were widespread in army hospitals.

She fought to improve conditions with better sanitation, food and more supplies, which reduced the mortality rate.

Nightingale kept meticulous notes about the number of deaths and their causes, and when she returned to Britain, she campaigned to improve conditions for the army and then more generally in hospitals.

A young Florence Nightingale

A young Florence Nightingale

An older, Florence Nightingale depicted in 1906

An older, Florence Nightingale depicted in 1906

There is a chapter dedicated to pioneering nurse heroine Florence Nightingale. Nightingale was one of 38 volunteer nurses from Great Britain who went to medical stations in Turkey during the Crimean War to help. She became the face of the effort after a newspaper called her “the lady with the lamp.”

The Florence Nightingale department at St Thomas's Hospital in Westminster with male patients. She fought to improve conditions with better sanitation, food and more supplies, which reduced the mortality rate. Nightingale kept accurate records of the number of deaths and their causes, and when she returned to Britain, she campaigned to improve conditions for the army and then more generally in hospitals

The Florence Nightingale department at St Thomas's Hospital in Westminster with male patients. She fought to improve conditions with better sanitation, food and more supplies, which reduced the mortality rate. Nightingale kept meticulous notes about the number of deaths and their causes, and when she returned to Britain, she campaigned to improve conditions for the army and then more generally in hospitals

The Florence Nightingale department at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster with male patients. She fought to improve conditions with better sanitation, food and more supplies, which reduced the mortality rate. Nightingale kept meticulous notes about the number of deaths and their causes, and when she returned to Britain, she campaigned to improve conditions for the army and then more generally in hospitals

Men's Department at Bellevue Hospital, 1898. The images have been published in A History of Nursing by former nurse Louise Wyatt. In the days before medical records were stored in computer files, patient documentation was simply cut over beds

Men's Department at Bellevue Hospital, 1898. The images have been published in A History of Nursing by former nurse Louise Wyatt. In the days before medical records were stored in computer files, patient documentation was simply cut over beds

Men’s Department at Bellevue Hospital, 1898. The images have been published in A History of Nursing by former nurse Louise Wyatt. In the days before medical records were stored in computer files, patient documentation was simply cut over beds

She used the collected data to lobby the government for reforms.

The Royal Army Health Commission was established and the testimony and statistical analysis of Nightingale was published with the findings of the committee in 1858.

A photo of her captures her in her youth, starting in the profession, while another photo was taken in 1906 of her bedridden in her last years.

She died at the age of 90 in 1910.

There is also a photo of the Florence Nightingale department at St Thomas’s Hospital, Westminster, which was a hive of activity.

Britain’s oldest surviving hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in the city of London, was founded by a courtier of the king in 1123.

A nurse depicted in a nurse's uniform in the early 1900s. Nursing clothing has evolved from the stylish but impractical 'Victorian decor' of the late 19th-century offering to the current more functional but boring design.

A nurse depicted in a nurse's uniform in the early 1900s. Nursing clothing has evolved from the stylish but impractical 'Victorian decor' of the late 19th-century offering to the current more functional but boring design.

Trailblazer Rosalind Pagnet, while she was the first inspector of the Queen's Nursing Institute

Trailblazer Rosalind Pagnet, while she was the first inspector of the Queen's Nursing Institute

A nurse depicted in nurse uniform early 1900 (pictured left) and Rosalind Pagnet, while she was the first inspector of the Queen’s Nursing Institute (pictured right)

The nurses' library depicted at St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1890. Numerous bookshelves along with tables and wicker chairs filled the room. Britain's oldest surviving hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital, in the city of London, was founded by a courtier of the king in 1123.

The nurses' library depicted at St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1890. Numerous bookshelves along with tables and wicker chairs filled the room. Britain's oldest surviving hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital, in the city of London, was founded by a courtier of the king in 1123.

The nurses’ library depicted at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1890. Numerous bookshelves along with tables and wicker chairs filled the room. Britain’s oldest surviving hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in the city of London, was founded by a courtier of the king in 1123.

The nursing school was founded in 1867, seven years after the first nightingale training school was established in St. Thomas.

Future nurses received seven weeks of classroom training, culminating in an exam to see if they were suitable for the profession.

If they were approved, they would follow an intensive three-year course in which they were taught anatomy, physiology, bacteriology and hygiene, as well as showing how to read and relate to temperatures.

The basic principles of the training are still repeated a century later for the current trainees.

Nurse, Sarah Elizabeth Wardroper is sitting at a writing table

Nurse, Sarah Elizabeth Wardroper is sitting at a writing table

Florence Sarah Dacre-Craven, the founder of modern district nursing

Florence Sarah Dacre-Craven, the founder of modern district nursing

Nurse, Sarah Elizabeth Wardroper sits at a writing table (left) and Florence Sarah Dacre-Craven, the founder of modern neighborhood nursing

Nursing clothing has evolved from the stylish but impractical ‘Victorian decor’ at the end of the 19th century to the current more functional but boring design.

Mrs. Wyatt said, “This book examines the history of nursing by examining the earliest records of the caregiving profession, how it has progressed and what it has determined on the way to the nursing we see today.

“Over time, education and standards for the safety, development and governance of the profession have improved.

‘Not everything was just sailing and the book introduces lesser-known people who made this possible, sometimes at a high cost to themselves, and the effect that military nursing had on the 19th century in converting nursing from religious principles to the secular nursing we nowadays. “

A history of nursing, by Louise Wyatt, is published by Amberley and costs £ 14.99.

A short history of nursing in the UK

Until the mid-nineteenth century, nursing was not an activity that was thought to require skills or training.

Before 1880, hospital treatment for illness was fairly rare.

From the mid-nineteenth century, the discovery and application of anesthetics and antiseptic surgery advanced medical technology and allowed all classes to seek treatment in hospitals.

A series of nursing schools started in the 1860s.

1854 Florence Nightingale goes to Turkey to lead a team of nurses who look after soldiers in the Crimean War.

1855 Mary Seacole establishes the British Hotel, a place of convalescence for soldiers in the Crimean War

1860 Nightingale Training School is opened at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.

1887 British Nurses Association has been established.

1900 More hospitals are establishing their own training schools for nurses.

1916 Royal College of Nursing was established with 34 members.

1940 The nurse registered by the state is formally recognized with two years of training.

1948 The National Health Service offers free treatment for everyone in terms of care.

1951 Nurses were allowed to join the professional register.

1972 The Briggs Committee suggests a step towards the preparation of the nursing degree and that practice is based on research.

1983 United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting sets up a new professional register.

1986 Project 2000 describes the transition to a nurse training diploma based on colleges / universities instead of schools in hospitals.

2004 RCN only votes for preparation for diplomas.

2009 All nursing courses in the UK are at degree level.

Sources: University of Glasgow and a brief history of nursing in the UK by Professor B Gail Thomas.

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