Return to Menu Symbol of a Profession: One Hundred Years of Nurses' Caps

Cap - Victoria Hospital School of Nursing, London, Ontario - 1999.267.34 - CD2001-68-066

Cap - John H. Stratford Hospital School of Nursing, Brantford, Ontario - 1999.267.32 - CD2001-68-062

Cap - L'Hotel-Dieu de Lévis Hospital School of Nursing - 1999.267.5 - CD2001-68-009

Cap - Hamilton and District Regional School of Nursing - 1999.267.37 - CD2001-68-072

Evolution of the Nurse's Cap

Maids' Caps

Some hospitals chose for their uniforms the current fashions worn by domestic servants, including cap and bibbed apron. During the 1870s, the nurse's cap was almost identical to that worn by working women indoors, consisting of a gathered oval caul covering the back of the head and the hair, and a close-fitting headband (1999.267.34). Another model was the mob cap, an oval or circular piece of cloth gathered onto a band (1999.267.32). Very soon, however, these antecedents became highly stylized. Instead of caps designed for function - covering and keeping the hair neat - they began to take on a symbolic form. They were reduced in size, and heavily starched into form, so as to perch precariously on the top or back of the head (1999.267.5).

The mob cap developed crisp angles with a stiff and regular pleated band, a model which would persist throughout the twentieth century (1999.267.37). The maid's cap was made tiny (1999.267.44), and its gathered caul sometimes raised into a tall mound (1999.267.48) or point (1999.267.24) at the top.

Cap - Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing - 1999.267.44 - CD2001-60-003

Cap - Medicine Hat General Hospital School of Nursing - 1999.267.48 - CD2001-60-011

Cap - St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia - 1999.267.24 - CD2001-68-046


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