CARING IN STYLE - Amazing BCH Nurse’s Cape from VNSNY
If only nurses uniforms today looked so stylish. Like my grandmother says “they don’t make things like they used to.” The women of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York were dedicated to helping those in need, and they did so with style. This beautiful cape is currently on display at YUM courtesy the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY).
This cape has the initials BCH on the lapel, standing for the Bureau of Child Hygiene or Health. The BCH was a New York City-run program for looking after mothers and children in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. It was organized by several VNSNY leaders including VNS founder Lillian Wald, who spent her life creating programs and organizations that worked on behalf of children. Starting in 1907, the BCH adapted the VNS approach of care and service, and by 1912 the BCH had become a model for other cities, states, and in fact the federal government’s national efforts to care for America’s poorest children. This incredible artifact hints at the fantastic impact of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
You can see this piece of history and learn more about the VNSNY in YUM’s exhibition Trail of the Magic Bullet: The Jewish Encounter with Modern Medicine now on view.
Nurses Cape, 1930’s-50’s, courtesy Visiting Nurse Service of New York