AimTo show the development of an emerging nursing profession through the eyes of Louisa May Alcott and Hospital Sketches. BackgroundIn Hospital Sketches, Louisa May Alcott recounts her experiences when she worked as a nurse of injured soldiers during the American Civil War, in an autobiographically and masked-referential way, which allows her to negotiate between transgression and convention. Unlike other reviews, in this paper the relevance of nursing remains highlighted. DesignDiscussion paper. Data sourcesExisting literature in databases, history books and our own reading of facts. Implications for nursingIlluminating overlooked meanings hidden in nurses' personal sources enables to approach their contribution to history, improve their visibility and project the future of nursing. Nursing care, whether domestic or professional, was and remains a catalyst for change. ConclusionThrough Alcott's words, we understand the transition of nursing care as a gradual extension of the middle-class woman's domestic role and a progressive definition of nurses' identity. In particular, we highlight how certain professional nursing nuances which appear in the text are compatible with the gradual extension of the boundaries of women's domesticity. Furthermore, Alcott's use of literary devices reveals the delicate balance between women's domestic role and some new nursing professional features, which anticipates nursing professionalization.