February 15, 1852

 lilliam_wald2

Nursing uniform from the late 19th c.*

1852

Sunday Feb 15th  Have been to church and at

noon went to Mr Baileys to see sister Amelia

who is nursing there  Mother went with me

Have been reading since meeting  Edwin & wife came

in to spend the evening but Mr Ames & self were

just going to Mr Swains and they would not let 

us stop for them so they went to Augustus  Had a 

pleasant call or rather visit at Mr Swains  came away

about nine Oclock  Very pleasant

The sun came out today, so despite it being “pritty cold,”** the Ames family went to church. During the intermission between morning and afternoon services, Evelina and her elderly mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, rode out to visit Amelia Gilmore.  Amelia was the widow of Evelina’s brother, Joshua Gilmore, Jr. Joshua had died three years earlier, at age 35, leaving Amelia with two sons to raise.

In order to support herself and her boys, Amelia hired out as a nurse.  In this instance, she was looking after a Mr. Bailey, who must have lived near the Unitarian church. He may have lived alone, been ill and needed paid help; otherwise the convention of the day would have meant his female relatives looked after him. When Amelia wasn’t working, she and her youngest son, Samuel, lived with the Alger family near the Gilmore farm. The older son, Charles, had hired out somewhere but would soon come to reside with his uncle Alson Gilmore.

In 1852, nursing was not a formal profession.  Women (nursing was considered the exclusive province of women at the time) undertook nursing because they needed to work and this was one of very few avenues open to them. They based their protocol on personal experience in caring for ill members of their own families. There were no training programs or certification venues available, in no small part because there were so few hospitals. People were cared for at home. It would take the Crimean War in Europe and the Civil War in the U.S. to change attitudes and formalize medical care.

*Courtesy of http://www.nursinglink.monster.com

**Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

 

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