Let Uniforms Tell Stories – Focus on the Nurse’s Uniform

Christina Bates

Canadian Museum of Civilization


Uniforms are really good at telling stories about work, organizations, and individual identities. Whether military, official, religious or occupational, uniforms immediately identify the role of the wearer, conveying authority, virtue, expertise, obedience or responsibility. Uniforms can greatly enhance the value of historical or ethnographic collections.

Most people think of the military when they think of uniforms, but of course there are many other types of uniforms to collect. Depending on the goal of your collecting, occupational uniforms can be great sources, especially to preserve and interpret institutional histories and work history. As a test case, this module will show how to create and interpret the nurse’s uniform as part of a clothing collection, based on the Canadian Nursing History Collection at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. 

  • Why collect the nurse’s uniform?
  • How do you collect the nurse’s uniform?
  • What can we learn from the nurse’s uniform?
  • Resources


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