In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are applauded for their willingness to risk their lives to help those in need. A quick look at the long history of nursing reminds us that they offer much more than medical care. They’re vital to to a healthy community. Nothing drives this home more than the amazing historical photo collection of the Alumnae Association of the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing. With over 1500 images from the 1880s to the 1970s, the collection features not only the School of Nursing, but also the wards and campus of the Philadelphia Almshouse and the Philadelphia General Hospital. It portrays in amazing detail, life in a tax supported municipal institution as it transitioned from an almshouse to a fully fledged hospital. Its focus on nurses and nursing as an integral professional component in the life of the hospital highlights the significant contributions made by the profession to the American health care system. You can see the full collection here or click on each photo for more detail. Happy Nurses Week!

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Three student nurse pose with a physician holding two infants, prior to 1904
Three student nurse pose with a physician holding two infants, prior to 1904
Three unidentified student nurses, c. 1903-1904
Three unidentified student nurses, c. 1903-1904
An unidentified nurse poses for a portrait, early 1900s
An unidentified nurse poses for a portrait, early 1900s
Student nurse Janie Hartman reading to a pediatric patient, early 1950s
Student nurse Janie Hartman reading to a pediatric patient, early 1950s
Two nurses weigh babies in the Nursery, c. 1954
Two nurses weigh babies in the Nursery, c. 1954
A student nurse tends to a patient, c. 1954
A student nurse tends to a patient, c. 1954
Two nurses sit with children in front of a pair of clowns during Circus Day, c. 1954
Two nurses sit with children in front of a pair of clowns during Circus Day, c. 1954
An instructor shows a practical nurse student how to pour medication, c. 1958
An instructor shows a practical nurse student how to pour medication, c. 1958
A portrait of a graduate nurse, 1970s
A portrait of a graduate nurse, 1970s
A nurse at lunch in the Food Services Building, 1970s
A nurse at lunch in the Food Services Building, 1970s
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The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 57, No. 1 (1933), pp. 32-57
University of Pennsylvania Press