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Monday, June 1, 2015

The Women Civilian Employees of Base Hospital 46 Part II: Stenographers LaVina McKeown, M. Ethel Gulling, and Jennie Davis

Three women served as stenographers to support the burgeoning paperwork and bureaucracy of the First World War military for Oregon's Base Hospital 46 in France. They were experienced in office management and stenography and, like the laboratory assistants and dietitian of the unit, were civilian employees under contract with the United States Army.

LaVina McKeown, Stenographer, Grace Phelps Papers, Box 3, Binder 5, Base Hospital 46 Staff Files, Historical Collections & Archives, Oregon Health & Science University. Courtesy Historical Collections &Archives, OHSU.
According to the records in the Grace Phelps Papers at the Historical Collections & Archives at OHSU, LaVina McKeown graduated from the Kansas City Business College in Kansas City, Missouri in  1910. She brought 8 years of experience to her position as Base Hospital 46 stenographer, working at the John Deere Company in Kansas City and, after coming to Portland, at the Oregon and Washington Railway and Navigation Company and the Union Meat Company.

M. Ethel Gulling,  Stenographer, Grace Phelps Papers, Box 3, Binder 5, Base Hospital 46 Staff Files, Historical Collections & Archives, Oregon Health & Science University. Courtesy Historical Collections &Archives, OHSU.
M. Ethel Gulling, we learn from the Grace Phelps Papers, graduated from the La Grande, Oregon High School Business College in 1907. She had 7 years of working experience at the Oregon and Washington Railway and Navigation Company and one at the Union Meat Company in Portland, which included work as a clerk, stenographer, and legal work. She would have been a colleague of LaVina McKeown. It is interesting to wonder about how they both came to serve with Base Hospital 46. Did they volunteer together? Did one of them encourage the other?

Jennie Davis, for whom we don't have a file, trained at the Bean's School of Shorthand in Portland, Maine (Wight, On Active Service With Base Hospital 46, p. 26).

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