Editor's note: From its first issue in 1900 through to the present day, AJN has unparalleled archives detailing nurses’ work and lives over more than a century. These articles not only chronicle nursing's growth as a profession within the context of the events of the day, but they also reveal prevailing societal attitudes about women, health care, and human rights. Today's nursing school curricula rarely include nursing's history, but it's a history worth knowing. To this end, From the AJN Archives highlights articles selected to fit today's topics and times.
This month we remember the influenza pandemic of 1918–19, which peaked in the United States during the fall of 1918. In AJN’s December 1918 issue, public health nursing leader Edna L. Foley reported on home nursing activities in Chicago that fall. She describes how the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), the city's Tuberculosis Nurses, and the Red Cross managed the deployment of nurses, aides, and supplies as well as food, coal, and clean bedding for families. The VNA's daily case-load increased more than 400% from September to October. Face masks were in short supply, so the nurses replaced cloth masks, which had to be boiled and dried daily, with disposable gauze masks, “which were tied over the face or pinned to the hair.”
Death notices of nurses were a regular feature of AJN in its early years, and the December 1918 issue included a special, poignant section on “Deaths Resulting from Influenza.” It filled four pages. To access Foley's full AJN article, go to http://links.lww.com/AJN/A127.