Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Workforce Education and Development

First Advisor

Hagler, Barbara

Abstract

Women have been involved within the public sphere of the workforce for thousands of years. Within the United States during the 18th and 19th Centuries, it was often with socially mandated stipulations. Once a woman was married, she usually withdrew to tend to the home front. If she became widowed, it was deemed tolerable for her to once again leave the confines of the home to work in the public sphere. However, war often changed the perception of what was acceptable. During the Revolutionary War, women found a voice and while still criticized for articulating their opinions, it was somewhat acceptable. Women also found work among the camps of the Revolutionary Army by helping to nurse soldiers back to health. Work in the nursing field would follow women through almost all of the conflicts that the United States found themselves embroiled, including the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. With the issuance of the Army Reorganization Act of 1901, the Army officially recognized the work of women as nurses as part of the military structure. As such, the Army Nurse Corps was formed. With the outbreak of World War II, women who were in or who entered the Army Nurse Corps often found themselves in areas they were not previously allowed, most specifically, near battle zones. As such, the Army was initially ill prepared to send women into these areas but their skills as trained nurses were deemed necessary. Utilizing a qualitative and historical framework, this work examines the experiences of women through both a social construction and a feminist lens. Research tools included a pilot study of oral history interviews completed by the author, use of archival interviews housed by the Library of Congress Veteran's History Project, document analysis and an extensive literature review. These tools helped in understanding and explaining the experiences of the women included within the study within both a historical and qualitative context.

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