A nurse’s uniform and cap from LICHSON.
A nurse’s uniform and cap from LICHSON.

The Long Island College Hospital was founded in 1853. In 1860 introduced bedside teaching but it wasn’t until 1883 that the School of Nursing opened. The school enjoyed a long tradition of educating nurses for 130 years before the last graduation in May, 2013 when the school closed.

In 1883 the nurses made their own uniforms which were not really “uniform” by any means. Each was made to suit the wearer’s fashion sense. One nurse tells of her uniform shrinking and she inserted a fedora in the front of the waist, and wore this as her uniform. Her next uniform sported a ruffle on the ends of the sleeves and on bottom of the skirt. By 1893, the dress of the uniform was made of a striped blue and white seersucker, a cap and an apron.

The uniform also had a fichu, which was a light triangular scarf that was draped over the shoulders and fastened in front or worn to fill in a low neckline. The nurse would receive her cap at the end of the probationary period. The fichu was added at the end of the first year, and the cap was awarded to graduates. The graduate cap was designed by Miss Ida Sutliffe, the first director of the school and also an alumnus, and closely resembles the New York Hospital cap. The cap is made slightly higher and fuller by the addition of pleats in the back.

In approximately 1935, the seersucker uniform was replaced by the blue and white gingham. The uniform changed again in 1942 when the sleeves were shortened. Lawn fabric (a plain weave textile, originally made of linen but now chiefly cotton) was in short supply, therefore the fichu was replaced by the bib.

The Museum of Nursing History is pleased to have received a number of items from the LICHSON over the years.

Reference: University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_Hospital_of_Brooklyn_at_Long_Island_College_Hospital