test tubes from the 19th/20th century, part of nursing history.
Nurses in the 19th and 20th centuries did analyses of patients' urine and blood, part of the move to increasingly quantify the clinical signs and symptoms to make diagnoses and treatment decisions.

These artifacts capture some of the common aspects of nursing work in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nurses used medicine cups, invalid feeders, thermometers, and syringes—along with other utensils, mechanical devices, and appliances—to feed, bathe, bandage, apply poultices and topical treatments, and medicate patients. Medications like laudanum (a tincture of opium) were used for pain relief, while Vicks vapor rub and mustard plaster provided relief from the symptoms of respiratory illnesses.

As physicians relied increasingly on the quantification of clinical signs and symptoms to diagnose and make treatment decisions, nurses assisted by conducting chemical analises of urine and blood and thermometry to monitor and record patients' bodily functions. As shown in the typhoid fever chart, nurses closely tracked the progression of an illness and monitored the effectiveness of the treatment.

Today's Flashback Friday brought to you by the Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry, now in its 30th year.