How the Rubber Glove Was Invented

  • how the rubber glove was invented
    September 25, 2019

    William Stewart Halsted was one of the founding professors of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    Caroline Hampton was a member of a prominent American southern family and the niece of Confederate General Wade Hampton III. She rebelled against her family wishes and entered nursing school in New York City, graduating in 1888. In 1889 she moved to Baltimore, and it was here the two would meet, and the love story would begin. She was appointed chief nurse to William Halsted, and before long the two would become romantically involved.

    Halsted used a combination of carbolic acid and mercuric chloride as a disinfectant during his surgical procedures. Hampton, acting as his scrub nurse would have to handle these chemicals regularly, and as a consequence, she developed severe contact dermatitis on her hands. Halsted could not bear to see her go through this and reached out to the Goodyear Rubber Company to create a rubber glove that she could wear during surgery to protect her hands.

    The two were married in June of 1890, shortly after he presented her with two pairs of rubber gloves made to fit plaster casts of her hands. Before long other theatre staff and surgeons began wearing the gloves too, and in time their use became commonplace.

    By the early 1900s, all surgeons were wearing sterile rubber gloves.

    The first disposable latex medical gloves were manufactured in 1964 by the Ansell Rubber company.