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Face-Mask Follies: How a Simple Protective Covering Symbolized the State of Nursing and American Society in 1918 to 1919 and 2020

Face-Mask Follies: How a Simple Protective Covering Symbolized the State of Nursing and American... Face-Mask Follies: How a Simple Protective Covering Symbolized the State of Nursing and American Society in 1918 to 1919 and 2020 Marian Moser Jones University of Maryland If future Smithsonian curators have to choose a single artifact to represent nursing and American life in 2020, the face mask will win hands down. An example of a battered disposable N95, which nurses have reused due to sup- ply shortages, is probably the best choice. The homemade cloth masks with incongruously bright patterns or masks printed with slogans from “Black Lives Matter” and “Trust Science” to “This Mask Is as Useless as the Govern- ment” are also possible contenders. Nevertheless, as a historian who has studied the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic, I cannot help but note the ways that mask wearing for nurses in 2020 (and 2021) recapitulated the mask dramas that unfolded during that prior public health catastrophe. In both pandemics, nurses embraced masks but had to struggle to obtain an adequate supply despite their role as frontline caregivers. In both pandemics, many nurses died due to overwork and inade- quate protection. In both pandemics, laywomen, many already overburdened with household responsibilities and paid labor, “volunteered” under social pressure to make http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nursing History Review Springer Publishing

Face-Mask Follies: How a Simple Protective Covering Symbolized the State of Nursing and American Society in 1918 to 1919 and 2020

Nursing History Review , Volume 30 (1): 10 – Jan 28, 2022

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Publisher
Springer Publishing
Copyright
© 2022 Springer Publishing Company
ISSN
1062-8061
eISSN
1938-1913
DOI
10.1891/1062-8061.30.52
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Face-Mask Follies: How a Simple Protective Covering Symbolized the State of Nursing and American Society in 1918 to 1919 and 2020 Marian Moser Jones University of Maryland If future Smithsonian curators have to choose a single artifact to represent nursing and American life in 2020, the face mask will win hands down. An example of a battered disposable N95, which nurses have reused due to sup- ply shortages, is probably the best choice. The homemade cloth masks with incongruously bright patterns or masks printed with slogans from “Black Lives Matter” and “Trust Science” to “This Mask Is as Useless as the Govern- ment” are also possible contenders. Nevertheless, as a historian who has studied the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic, I cannot help but note the ways that mask wearing for nurses in 2020 (and 2021) recapitulated the mask dramas that unfolded during that prior public health catastrophe. In both pandemics, nurses embraced masks but had to struggle to obtain an adequate supply despite their role as frontline caregivers. In both pandemics, many nurses died due to overwork and inade- quate protection. In both pandemics, laywomen, many already overburdened with household responsibilities and paid labor, “volunteered” under social pressure to make

Journal

Nursing History ReviewSpringer Publishing

Published: Jan 28, 2022

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