KGH: 175 years of caring - Capping Ceremony: A symbolic milestone

News / KGH History
By Pamela Peacock

This week's article is by the Museum's curator, Dr. Pamela Peacock.

The nurse's cap distinguished the trained nurse from her predecessors and marked her education and skill. According to historian Tina Bates, it represented "respectability, femininity, and service," with its military, religious, and academic overtones.

Receiving a nursing cap was a momentous occasion for most nurses, marking their transition from probationer to student nurse. Prior to the 1940s most capping ceremonies were low-key, relatively private affairs in which the students would enter the Supervisorís office one at a time to receive their cap. As the profession expanded in the 1940s, the capping ceremony became more elaborate. Often held in large halls before invited family and friends, the ceremony consisted of a procession of the probationary students into the hall to join their upper-year sisters, the receipt of the cap, a candle-lighting ceremony and the recitation of a pledge of loyalty to the school and the Florence Nightingale Pledge. By the late 1960s most capping ceremonies had fallen by the wayside due to changes in nursing education.

The first capping ceremony at the KGH School of Nursing occurred in 1948. The solemn moment was marked by a short procession of the instructors to the front of the room, the approach of each probationer to the Superintendent, Louise D. Acton, to be capped, and the recitation of a prayer. The last capping ceremony at KGH occurred in 1962.

For more information, visit the Museum of Health Care online or download the new App: "Transformation of the Kingston General Hospital 1835-1914."

KGH will mark the 175th anniversary durning the week of September 23, 2013.

Do you have an interesting story to share about your history with KGH? Use the comment section below to tell us!

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, Lovell Drugs and our event sponsors, Honeywell and KCCU.