laundry room

Approximate site of hospital’s first laundry

“I was not prepared for the drudgery … the washing of filthy clothing and foul dressings that the assistant nurses had to do… Cotton could only be bought at the most fabulous prices… every inch of old cotton and gauze had to be used over and over again. All this foul washing was done in the ward bathroom, and then sent to the general laundry to be more thoroughly washed.” 

Georgia Sturtevant, who started as a nurse at MGH in 1862

MGH does not have accounts from anyone who worked in the hospital’s laundry in the nineteenth century. Laundry was a job taken by working-class people with few other options, often immigrant women. This image is from an MGH laundry facility at a later (but unknown) date.