Presenter Information

Vivek Vishwanath, Yale University

Location

Harkins 305

Event Website

https://www.providence.edu/hpm/Pages/Conference.aspx

Start Date

12-4-2014 9:30 AM

End Date

12-4-2014 10:50 AM

Description

In the wake of the Great Depression, the United States found itself propelled into a world war of unimaginable proportions. Apart from its major political and economic consequences, the Second World War also considerably altered the role of American women in society. Mobilization brought millions of women into the paid labor force, and many of these women chose to serve as army nurses. With the highest female salaries of the time, it made sense that nursing became an attractive occupation for young women seeking an education and opportunities to travel. WWII ultimately accentuated the heroic characteristics of the army nurse and subtly transformed her image in wartime media. Media portrayals of WWII army nurses differed considerably from previously constructed angelic images of nursing during WWI, and she now came to be portrayed as a dignified heroine of war. The transformation in nursing’s public image partially stemmed from the American government’s dedication to increasing nursing supply and improving nursing education. These efforts were bolstered by patriotic portrayals of nurses in documentaries, newspaper articles, and Hollywood motion pictures of the 1930s and 1940s. Though these novel portrayals of army nursing did not completely reject traditional feminine sentiments, they did encourage the American public to reevaluate popular perceptions of the female role in society. In the context of the sexualization and feminization of nursing in recent years, this paper will seek to explore the fundamental transformations to nursing’s public image during the Second World War and their lasting impacts on the nursing profession.

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Apr 12th, 9:30 AM Apr 12th, 10:50 AM

A New Heroine: Transforming the Public Image of the Army Nurse During World War II

Harkins 305

In the wake of the Great Depression, the United States found itself propelled into a world war of unimaginable proportions. Apart from its major political and economic consequences, the Second World War also considerably altered the role of American women in society. Mobilization brought millions of women into the paid labor force, and many of these women chose to serve as army nurses. With the highest female salaries of the time, it made sense that nursing became an attractive occupation for young women seeking an education and opportunities to travel. WWII ultimately accentuated the heroic characteristics of the army nurse and subtly transformed her image in wartime media. Media portrayals of WWII army nurses differed considerably from previously constructed angelic images of nursing during WWI, and she now came to be portrayed as a dignified heroine of war. The transformation in nursing’s public image partially stemmed from the American government’s dedication to increasing nursing supply and improving nursing education. These efforts were bolstered by patriotic portrayals of nurses in documentaries, newspaper articles, and Hollywood motion pictures of the 1930s and 1940s. Though these novel portrayals of army nursing did not completely reject traditional feminine sentiments, they did encourage the American public to reevaluate popular perceptions of the female role in society. In the context of the sexualization and feminization of nursing in recent years, this paper will seek to explore the fundamental transformations to nursing’s public image during the Second World War and their lasting impacts on the nursing profession.

http://digitalcommons.providence.edu/auchs/2014/panela1/1