Parlour of the History of Nursing
Jagiellonian University – Medical College
Institute of Nursing and Midwifery
ul. Kopernika 25
31-501 Kraków
Free admission. Tours available by appointment only. Please call 506 267 170
Curator: prof. Anna Majda

The Parlour of the History of Nursing was officially opened in 2011, on the centenary of the start of nursing studies in Poland. The parlour’s mission is to preserve the achievements of the precursors of the profession, to show the origins, development and achievements of nursing in Poland and present models that are important in the education of nurses and to ensure nursing students identify with the profession. The exhibition includes original documents, chronicles, protocols, photographs, portraits, albums, letters, a large collection of books consisting of textbooks and journals for nurses, uniforms of the students of the university’s School of Nursing and Health Carers (Hygienists), as well as Polish and international decorations awarded to distinguished teachers of nursing, which miraculously survived for posterity despite the Partitions and two World Wars. There is also some furniture and items of everyday use, e.g. cabinets for books dating from the 1930s, cutlery with the monogram of the university’s School of Nursing, which was donated by the Rockefeller Foundation and UNRRA in circa 1948, a typewriter belonging to Teresa Kulczyńska and the piano and records belonging to Maria Epstein with recordings of Caruso and Rubinstein. Above the cabinets are reproductions of paintings: Jan Matejko’s Stańczyk and Leon Wyczółkowski’s Cemeteries, which ornamented the study of successive directors of the School of Nursing until 2011. All the exhibits come from the last 100 years of nursing in Kraków. The organizers of the exhibition paid much attention to those nurses who rendered great services to furthering the development of nursing in Kraków, and more broadly, in Poland, including Maria Epstein, Maria Wiszniewska, Teresa Kulczyńska, Joanna Stryjeńska, Anna Rydel, Hanna Chrzanowska. Their stories allow us to become acquainted with the personal mementoes, documents and photographs of these pioneers. Maria Epstein, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, who became a nun; Anna Rydel, the daughter of an ophthalmologist and professor at the Jagiellonian University on whom Stanisław Wyspiański modelled the character Haneczka in his play Wesele (The Wedding); Teresa Kulczyńska, the daughter of a secondary school teacher, and assistant professor in pedagogy at the Jagiellonian University; Hanna Chrzanowska, daughter of a professor at the Jagiellonian University, historian of Polish literature, beatified in 2018; Maria Wiszniewska, daughter of the owner of the largest pharmaceutical warehouse in Kraków; Joanna Stryjeńska, daughter of a renowned architect in Kraków – all fulfilled not only their nursing mission, but also a social and patriotic mission for the whole country. They finished schools or underwent internships abroad in reputable centres, including in the USA, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Austria and other countries as part of the grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross. They set up teaching programmes and organized education at the School of Nursing in Kraków, using German and American models. They collaborated with professors of the Faculty of Medicine at the Jagiellonian University. They also helped save the health and lives of thousands of people, helping the sick, suffering and needy soldiers, and also civilians during the Silesian Uprisings, epidemics of infectious diseases, and during the First and Second World Wars. Thanks to her work with the Austrian Red Cross, Epstein was awarded a diploma of recognition by Archduke Franz Salvator of Austria; Chrzanowska, as the author of the care of bedridden patients in their home – and who also organized so-called parish nursing – received the Order and Certicate of the ‛Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’ (For Church and Pope), which was awarded at the request of Karol Wojtyła by Pope Paul IV; Rydel received the highest international nursing decoration – the Florence Nightingale Medal. The exhibition’s narrative gives an overview of the history of nursing at university level; it includes organizational changes, academic achievements and the participation of the nurses – academic teachers in projects, conferences, and international organizations. The documentation which has been amassed relates to the achievements of the graduates and teachers of the School of Nursing in Kraków, who edited the rst text-books on nursing and co-edited the first professional journal, who co-organized the first professional association and helped draft the first law relating to the nursing profession. Thanks to them, new schools which were established in Poland for teaching the profession were modelled on the example of the School of Nursing in Kraków. In 2020 the Parlour of the History of Nursing was partially modernized by adding two multimedia stations set against a large-format print depicting the Management Board and graduates of the 1st course at the University School of Nurses and Health Carers (Hygienists) from 1928. It is therefore possible to view, using touch screens, a multimedia Polish-English presentation on the biography of young nurses from Kraków, a Polish-English photographic album, depicting events related to the beginning of vocational training for nurses. It is also possible to listen to a talk about Maria Epstein via a handset. This part of the exhibition is accompanied by a soundtrack with music of the composer and pianist, Artur Rubinstein who was a friend of M. Epstein. After this modernization work the museum is in line with the contemporary trend of preserving traditions in interactive ways thus making it even more recognizable in the social space.