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Monday, July 6, 2015

Overseas Nurses Guests of Honor

Oregon Base Hospital 46 nurses were frustrated with their lack of rank in the U.S. military and their return from France in the spring of 1919 provided the context for them to raise concerns about the second-class status of women nurses in the military. But they also returned to a profession strengthened by women's wartime service and the growth of social work and public health.

These currents came together when the Oregon Graduate Nurses Association hosted a dinner on June 18, 1919 at Portland's Central Library to honor the women nurses who had served overseas during the conflict, including Base Hospital 46 staff members. According to the Oregonian, each was asked to "give a short account of her experiences."

"Overseas Nurses Dined," Oregonian, June 20, 1919, 13.
Speakers emphasized the connections among nursing and social services and social work. Emma Grittinger, the former head of Portland's Visiting Nurse Association, spoke in her new job as director of the Bureau of Public Health Nursing for the Northwestern Division of the Red Cross.

I've noted in some of our previous posts that some Base Hospital 46 women explored careers after the war that encompassed social service work; in the next few posts we'll trace a few more of the women in their postwar careers.

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