Nursing Cap History

The University of Maryland School of Nursing cap, known as the “Flossie,” was designed in 1892 by the school’s first superintendent, Louisa Parsons, who modeled it after one of Florence Nightingale’s own caps. The elaborate point d’esprit lace was made in England and required special care to maintain. Convinced that too much time and effort went into making and laundering the lace Flossier, in 1900 then-Superintendent Katharine A. Taylor simplified the design and designated it as the graduate cap.

The Flossie was the UMSON’s official graduate cap and served for decades as a symbol of the wearer’s professionalism and the School’s connection to the founder of modern nursing. Several traditions surround the Flossie at the University of Maryland: In the early years a ceremony known as “capping” took place as a rite of passage. From the late 1950’s onward, an event was held for the seniors, who were taught how to string their Flossie caps in the final weeks before graduation. In later years, a fluting ceremony was held after the six-week probationary period for each student nurse. If she was progressing satisfactorily, she was allowed to flute her cap and continue her studies. By the 1970’s the fluting tradition continued, though it no longer marked the end of the probationary period. The fluting banquet grew into an involved night that included skits, songs, laughter, and food, in addition to seniors helping the juniors learn how to flute their caps.