What was it like?

A lot of people today say they are overworked and
under payed so we wondered what it like in the 19th
century. And since I’m married to nurse I decided
the following from 1887 might change some minds.

I know nurses today work hard and are called in on
their days off, but how many would abide by this?

picture from the University at Buffalo

In 1887 each nurse had 50 patients, swept, mopped,
and dusted the wards, had to bring a scuttle of
coal with them to heat the hospital, display good
penmanship, reported for duty at 7 am and worked
until 8 pm except on Sundays when they were off
from noon to 2 pm, and had to fill kerosene lamps.

They also had to clean said lamps and then trim the
wicks. Graduated nurses would get one evening a week
off for courting, or two if they were church goers.
Since there was no retirement plan it was strongly
recommended they save for their declining years.
If one made $30 a month it was advised they save $15.

A nurse who smoked, drank liquor, had her hair
done at a beauty shop, or frequented dance halls
gave the director of nurses good cause to suspect
her worth, intentions and integrity.

They even got pay raises. If they performed their
duties serving her patients and doctors faithfully
and without fault for five years would be given
and extra 5 cents a day.

Seems harsh by today’s standards, doesn’t it?
Comments are always welcome.


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