Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection

A Picture of Nursing  A reproduction of an Army Air Corps 
recruitment poster for WWII, part of the extensive digital gallery
Large-scale banners depicting the parts of this exhibition are 
available for viewing in the first-floor lobby of the Blagg-Huey 
Library on the Denton campus of TWU through Sunday, March 1, 
2015.
The postcard is a fleeting and widespread art form influenced by popular ideas about social and cultural life . . .  Nurses and nursing have been the frequent subjects of postcards for over 100 years.  In fact, no other art form has illustrated the nursing profession so profusely . . . Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection investigates the hold these images exert on the public imagination--then and now.  Introduction, Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection

What is the Zwerdling postcard collection?

Images of nurses and nursing are informed by cultural values; ideas about women, men, and work; and by attitudes toward class, race, and national differences.  By documenting the relationship of nursing to significant forces in 20th-century life, such as war and disease, Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection reveals how nursing was seen during that time.  Introduction, Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection  This exhibition provides a view of the nursing profession from various perspectives, including Picturing a Woman's Mission: Service to Humanity; Picturing Nursing as a Career; Picturing the Gender of Nursing; Nursing and Respectability; and The Art of Nursing.   

Who is Michael Zwerdling?
Michael Zwerdling, RN was an American nurse and collector who donated an archive of 2,588 postcards to the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM).


Prior to becoming a registered nurse, Zwerdling took an interest in postcard collecting.  (This interest began) when he came upon a postcard collector at an antique show and learned that he could pay just 20 cents for a lithograph of an angel, gargoyles, mermaids and more.  Soon he was an international postcard dealer with contacts in Japan, the United States and Europe—particularly France, which is still considered the postcard capital of the world.  When he decided to take his medical knowledge as a psychotherapist a step further by becoming a nurse, he sold many of the postcards he had collected, choosing instead to focus his collection on nursing-related material only.  Nursezone.com 

Where can I view the exhibition?

The exhibition itself is available for exploration on the NLM website.  Included are resources for educators and a digital gallery.

On loan to Texas Woman's University Libraries from the National Library of Medicine are six large-scale banners depicting introductions to the exhibition and its five parts, providing an entertaining overview of Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection.  The banners are available for viewing in the first-floor lobby of the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus of TWU through Sunday, March 1, 2015. 


~Sandy Cochran 

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