In 1887, Nurses Had To Follow These 6 Ludicrous Rules

Nursing is one of the most honorable professions a person can pursue. It involves an immense amount of knowledge, physical strength, and compassion for even the most difficult patients. The profession also dates back thousands of years, giving it some strange history. Here are just a few crazy rules nurses had to follow in a manual from 1887.

1) Dust and sweep your patients’ rooms.

Nurses in 1887 had up to 50 patients, which would be unheard of today. They also had to perform some routine maintenance tasks in addition to caring for sick people.

One of those tasks was to make sure that the room was neat and tidy. Nurses were expected to sweep and mop the floors and dust the window sills. It was a thankless job, even back then.


2) Nurses were expected to set aside their pay for future care.

In 1887, there was no Social Security or any social safety net. When people aged and became unable to work, it was up to their families to care for them. Nursing was one of the first professions to set aside money for future care.

The amount they put aside was pretty staggering. In many cases, half their wages went to pay for future care. With that money, they could be sure that they would not be a burden on their families or society.

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3) Graduate nurses in good standing got time off for courtship.

Nursing was one of the very few professions open to women (the other being teaching). In spite of their work outside of the home, these women were expected to marry and have children.

In order to do this, they naturally had to be courted by a man. These nurses were given one evening off per week for courting, two evenings off if they regularly attended church.


4) Nurses were expected to not smoke, drink, go to the beauty shop, or frequent dance halls.

The behavior of the nurses reflected on the hospital. Because of this, there were strict rules about how these women could act outside of the hospital.

If any woman was found to engage in these behaviors, she could be reported to the supervisor because her intentions, worth, and integrity could be called into question. That’s pretty harsh for behavior that seems routine today.

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5) Even back then, nurses worked very long hours.

Each nurse on duty was expected to report to work promptly at 7 a.m. each day. They would then work until 8 p.m.

The only exceptions to this were the times she got away for courtship and on the Sabbath. On Sundays, nurses were excused from work from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in order to attend services.


6) After five years, nurses received a raise.

Assuming the nurse served the doctors and the patients faithfully, she would get a raise after five years. The raise was five cents per day. That’s equivalent to about $2 in today’s terms. This isn’t very much of a raise considering how much work these women were expected to perform.

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