Florence Nightingale

My Nurse Doll Collection

Somewhere along the way, about ten years ago, I approached the owner of Berkeley's biggest toy store about nurse dolls. It occured to me that if we wanted a generation of good nurses we would have to introduce the idea early on with toys about nursing. I was thinking of making a Florence Nightingale doll myself. The owner of the store told me that she was told by the feminists in the 70s to get the nurse stuff out and bring in women doctor stuff. I found this very odd considering Miss Nightingale warned against women acting like men if they became doctors. What the world needed was more professional women nurses. Now we are beginning to see male nurse dolls.

Click on a doll for a close-up view.

Doll photo

This original group shot was taken in 1999 and represents an effort for about 10 years in Berkeley, California to collect nurse dolls. From left to right: The little "Candy Striper" (a term used for those persons who volunteer to help in hospitals in a non-nurse way like showing people what floor is where and stuff) wears a nurse cap so she is both i guess. The blue caped and white uniformed nurse is called Florence Nightingale but is dressed like a Dorthea Dix American Civil War "Clara Barton" outfit. I believe this is an EFFENBEE doll. The tiny one below is part of an American Girl assortment and is actually a doll's doll, dressed again like American Civil War "Clara Barton." To her right is Civil War Barbie, part of the Barbie Doll Collection, she comes with high heels and a low cut blouse and underwear that would make Dorthea Dix very angry. Her "doctors bag" has bandages and stethoscope and "doctors" sign. ~~~ I don't know anything about the one with pink hair and round eyes. The next big nurse is carved from wood and missing her thermometer but retains her first aid kit (which was invented by Clara Barton btw :-) ). This page's webwright Tom Weller liberated her from her home in a shoe repair shop in Berkeley. She seems "native?" Perhaps a tourist souvenir. The next is a teddy bear in American Civil War cape and modern nurses cap followed by GI Joe Army medic. ~~~ The tiny front row is Smurfette, from the German imaginary people known in America as Smurfs. She is ready to give a shot! There are many Smurfs, this next one, a male is a doctor or a nurse applying a stethoscope. The tiny ceramic nurse comes from a German flea market. Cute little modern nurse is made of modern age plastic and hand made locally. Next the tiny ceramic nurse comes from Portugal. The kitty I donno??? But the next tiny little "lego" -like characters come from a German flea market also. The little black nurse is hand done locally in Berkeley California and bought at Berkeley flea market. There are many of these "black" ceramics done, some in health care professionals. ~~~ In America bears are a favorite toy and here is 3 nurse bears and a Pez container nurse with a first aid kit. My daughter Emily made the 2 lego nurses. The ceramic nurse is typical of "collectors" figurines. Another "black" health care professional. The bronze military nurse is number 999 of a Roger Brodin cast of Army Nurse Rose Sendeki in battle dress with steel pot helmet. It was sold to raise money for the Washington DC Women's Vietnam War Memorial and considered the design until it was "passed over." There were three three-foot replicas made also, one is at Angel Fire in New Mexico. Lastly are those wonderful Trolls as nurses of all kinds. Again I think Trolls are a German invention.

Click on a doll for a close-up view.

In the center is a Florence Nightingale doll by Knowles Dolls, Historic Figures series, dressed as American Civil War nurse and holding a small patient with a bandage on its leg. The tiny one was made from home made molding material by my daughter Emily. The stretcher bearers are English from the Army in World War One. Another locally made "black" figurine, this one a child as a nurse. Got the wavy haired one on Ebay.

In the center of this group is a new stuffed doll from England of Florence Nightingale -- the series is called "Little Thinkers." In the upper right corner is an ornament for a Christmas tree or something I purchased at a garage sale. The colorful figure in the left is a fanciful image of FN with her name at the bottom. This kind of thing was popular during her time. The one at the far left is a replica of a statue of her that was erected in England during her time. The other ones are just assorted cutesy nurse figures.

Click on a doll for a close-up view.

The sexy one is Cutie Honey from a modern Japanese animated cartoon show, she is one morph of an android that assumes many identities, Cutie Honey being one. Next, another ceramic bear with thermometer and ruffled smock. Here is the real Florence Nightingale as she looked when Queen Victoria of England had her photo taken. The photo is of Florence Nightingale after her war experiences. She is dressed as she actually was at that time of her life. The doll comes with an accordion "lamp" that is not shown. Next, a Nurse Barbie coffee cup! The little key chain nurse comes from Poland, courtesy of Ewa Ulinska. The mouse is from the Wee Forest Folk line.

-- Cheers, Country Joe McDonald, Berkeley, February, 2001

Photos by Jon Seivert
humble press, P.O. Box 4322, Daly City, CA 94016
"Concert Photography: How to Shoot and Sell Music-Business Photographs"

Additional photos by Tom Weller