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North Carolina State College WWI Volunteer Nurses List

Author: 
Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

The role of women on the home front—particularly young women of college age—cannot be overstated to the sustainment of morale, health, and fundraising during World War I in North Carolina. One of the primary ways that young women volunteered to support their country in the war was as nurses, whether with local American Red Cross chapters, with the U.S. Army or Navy, at local public hospitals, or at their colleges. Every woman’s college in North Carolina—whether for white or African American women—had groups of young female college students who volunteered as nurses to perform community health services, help care for people in the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, or provide basic aid to those within their college community.

 

The volunteerism of women as nurses in North Carolina was the only tangible way that medical care could be provided to the state’s citizens with so many male doctors and professional female nurses called into U.S. military service in WWI. Often, volunteer nurses were the only source for basic medical care, including first aid, care of the infirmed or bedridden, and those suffering from wartime injuries. Communities and colleges relied on their local groups of volunteer nurses to sustain the level of health care to maintain a healthy community dedicated to win the war on the home front.

During and just after WWI, the North Carolina Council of Defense operated to coordinate wartime operations and programs in North Carolina, including promoting information and propaganda from the federal government, that was aimed at mobilizing the home front to the maximum benefit of the war effort. The Council also worked to collect records document all aspects of North Carolinians work and programs during the war, including the documentation of the roles of women in WWI on the home front.

We are privileged to have in the North Carolina Council of Defense records a three-page list of women who volunteered as nurses at North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering (present-day North Carolina State University) in Raleigh, N.C. The list—though not believed to be complete—is the only-known list of State College women to have served at the college as nurses in the war. All of these women sacrificed their time, energies, and risked their health to serve in this capacity. Many other women at numerous other colleges in North Carolina did the same, but this is the best list we have naming those women from a particular North Carolina college who were volunteer nurses.

Perhaps you know or are descended from one of these women. As North Carolinians, we all owe them a great deal of gratitude. The role of women during the war led to increased opportunities in colleges and the work place in the future for all women in the state.

 

You can learn more about the role of women in North Carolina in WWI by reading the History of the North Carolina Council of Defense online in the digital WWI Collection of the North Carolina Digital Collections, a joint effort of the State Library of North Carolina and the State Archives of North Carolina.

This blog post is part of the State Archives of North Carolina’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of North Carolina.

Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of North Carolina will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of North Carolina, and will be featured in NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog.