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This week in history: First nursing seminars held at the World’s Fair

In 1893, nursing was a fairly new profession. Some of its first seminars were held during the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

A view from Statue of the Republic at the 1893 World’s Fair.
A view from Statue of the Republic at the 1893 World’s Fair.

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

National Nurses Week ends every year on May 12 — birthday of history’s most iconic nurse, Florence Nightingale.

The pioneer of the profession was scheduled to appear at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago for several seminars on nursing, according to a report in the June 13, 1983 edition of the Chicago Daily News.

Seminars such as “Hospital Care of the Sick” and “First Aid to the Injured” were held at the Art Institute, and although few attended, they “seemed to appreciate the proceedings immensely,” the report said.

Long before PowerPoint presentations became ubiquitous at conferences, participating speakers read their own papers on different topics aloud. One presenter discussing “The Care of Neglected and Abandoned Children” became irate as listeners kept coming and going during his speech, but he “kept on and was rewarded by applause,” the report said.

So where was Nightingale? Unfortunately, she was a no-show; but her paper was read to the crowd, the report said.