Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection

August 31 – October 10, 2015

PRInformationPicturesofNursing2The National Library of Medicine is pleased to present our latest traveling exhibition, Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection. The exhibition explores a unique archive of 2,588 postcards and over 100 years of images of nurses and the nursing profession from around the world, investigating the hold these images exert on the public imagination—then and now.

The postcard is a fleeting and widespread art form influenced by popular ideas about social and cultural life in addition to fashions in visual style. Nurses and nursing have been the frequent subjects of postcards for over one hundred years. In fact, no other art form has illustrated the nursing profession so profusely using such a variety of artistic styles and images. These images of nurses and nursing are informed by cultural values; ideas about women, men, and work; and 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, these postcards reveal how nursing was seen during those times.


The six-banner traveling exhibition highlights only a small selection from the 2,588 postcards of The Zwerdling Postcard Collection, but over 500 more are available to view in the exhibition’s online digital gallery at

Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection began traveling around the United States in January 2015. For more information, contact or visit us on the web at:

Credit line: This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Curated by Julia Hallam, PhD.

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