In 1887, Nurses Had To Follow These 9 Ludicrous Rules
I can't believe these rules existed back then... Crazy!
Jenny Brown

If you’ve been to the hospital recently, you’ve probably noticed that the hospital relies on nurses in order to keep everything running smoothly. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 3.1 million nurses in the United States alone.


What you probably don’t know is that even with so many nurses, most nurses are severely overworked and underpaid. For all the sacrifices that nurses make, it’s hard to argue that they are fairly compensated. And it seems to have always been this way.

Check out these 9 rules nurses had to follow back in 1887. It may not be this bad for nurses now, but we can all be doing a whole lot more to show our appreciation to nurses.

In addition to taking care of 50 patients, each nurse had to follow these rules:

1. Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patient’s furniture and window sills.


2. Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.


3. Light is important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys, and trim wicks. Wash the windows once a week.


4. The nurse’s notes are important in aiding the physician’s work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.


5. Each nurse on day duty will report every day at 7AM and leave at 8PM except on Sabbath on which day you will be off from 12PM to 2PM.


6. Graduate nurses in good standing with the director of nurses will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church.


7. Each nurse should lay aside from each pay day a goodly sum of her earning for her benefits during her declining years so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30 a month you should set aside $15.


8. Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop, or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.


9. The nurse who performs her labors and serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be given an increase by the hospital administration of five cents per day.


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By Jenny Brown
Jenny Brown is a senior writer at Shareably. She is based in San Francisco and can be reached at