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Army Nurse Corps History Home > Army Nursing History in Pictures > History of the Army Nurse Corps, Slide Presentation with Narration

HISTORY OF THE ARMY NURSE CORPS
(Slide Presentation with Narration)

THE YEARS BETWEEN WORLD WARS

The interwar years appear at first glance to be a bit sleepy. The size of the Corps shrunk dramatically. By July 1920, there were slightly over 1,500 nurses on active duty. This would shrink to a low of 603 by 1935. From that point until the mobilization efforts of 1940 there were no reserve nurses on active duty. Neither were there any blacks, the small WWI contingent of 18 black nurses demobilized in 1919.

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For 18 years, from 1919 - 1937, the Corps was led by Julia Stimson. Under her leadership, with the endorsement of the line generals who had witnessed or benefited from nursing care, and along with the increased political influence of organized nursing, changes in status and retirement were legislated. Nurses lobbied openly for full military status. In 1920 a

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bill was passed granting nurses relative rank in the grades of Second Lieutenant to Major. This law entitled nurses to wear the insignia of their rank, however the Surgeon general issued an order that nurses would continue to be addressed as "Miss" or "Nurse'. Their pay was approximately half of a male officer of the same rank. Despite the peacetime size of the Army, the focus on

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mobilization did not lessen. The Rec Cross served as the sole source of the Reserve until 1929 when a change in the regulation allowed enrollment from any source provided that the nurses met the physical and professional requirements. When the mobilization of the line began with the declaration of a limited

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national emergency in September 1939, the authorized strength of the Army Nurse Corps jumped to 4,019.


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