partners exhibit heading

women in the military
Women in
Military Service



Nurses Corps:

The Army Nurse Corps, established in 1901, and Navy Nurse Corps, established in 1908, sprang into action as nurses stationed in Pearl Harbor rushed to treat the wounded on shore and aboard hospital ships. At the time, the military included 8,000 nurses. By the end of the war, army nurses had grown to 59,000 and navy nurses to 11,000. 

army nurse ernestine koranda

In the image to the left an army nurse Ernestine Koranda instructs Army medics on the proper method of giving an injection, Queensland, Australia, 1942.

Some of the first prisoners of war (POWs) were military nurses and civilian civil servants who were stationed in the Philippines, which was then a U.S. territory.

In the photo below on the left are former Army Nurse Corps POWs from Bataan and Corregidor, freed after three years imprisonment in Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines, and on their way home wearing new uniforms, February 1945. In the photo below on the right are former Navy Nurse Corps POWs posing with Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kincaid, Commander of the 7th Fleet and Southwest Pacific Force, after their rescue from Los Banos, 23 February 1945.

former army nurse corps POWs from bataan and cooregidor freed after 3 years imprisonment in the Philippines

navy nurse POWs with Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kincaid

Members of the Nurse Corps served in the United States and throughout the world wherever American soldiers were.  A serious shortage of military and civilian nurses throughout the war prompted continuing recruitment advertising.

Life magazine, 26 May 1941, emphasized
the daily life of an Army nurse.
nurse on cover of life magazine


Jergen's Lotion advertisement for nurses in The Saturday Evening Post, May 26, 1945, focused on women as caregivers on the job and at home.Jergen's Lotion Ad in the Saturday Evening Post, 1945


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 Photo Credits: #1: USA Photos, #2: Army Nurse Corps Collection, Office of Medical History, Office of the Army Surgeon General,
#3: US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Archives, #4 & 5: The Women's Memorial

(c) Copyright National Women's History Museum 2007