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New web site section on Army Nurse Corps in WW1 debuts

Army Nurse Outdoor UniformThis week a new section of the World War One Centennial Commission web site appears that will tell the story of the Army Nurse Corps in World War 1. Unlike the iconic Red Cross nurses of WW1, the role of the Army Nurse Corps nurses in the Great War has been somewhat obscure.  This effort to highlight the contributions of Army nurses to the war effort has been decades in the making.

In 1984, Jo-Ann Power read a description of women who volunteered to go to France to nurse American Doughboys. The piece was a short article in The Washington Post, but it piqued Jo-Ann’s interest in women who ventured abroad to a foreign land—and a foreign war—during a time when few women traveled beyond their garden gates.

Jo Ann PowerAuthor Jo Ann PowerA freelance writer for newspapers and magazines, Jo-Ann was also an aspiring novelist. She had taught high school and college history classes, and she knew that many enjoyed learning history from reading well-researched historical novels. The story of 22,000 American women who volunteered to nurse wounded and dying United States soldiers and airmen had been woefully neglected.

Digging into primary resources at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, she spent weeks examining boxes crammed with unmarked photographs, tattered letters and old microfilms of newspaper articles.

Four years later, with a few books already published, she wrote a proposal for a novel starring a group of nurses serving abroad in France. Editors in New York liked the story of these brave women, but declared the war too vague to many and too gloomy to explore.

Jo-Ann kept her records and over the decades, continued to research the women of the Army Nurse Corps [ANC]. As the date for the European World War One Centennial approached, she resumed her quest and traveled to American museums such as First Division Museum in Cantigny, Illinois and to the Army Medical Museum in San Antonio, Texas. She also trekked over much of France, along former American front lines and to English and French museums, landmarks and battlefields.

Heroic Measures coverWhen the American WWI Centennial Commission was organized in 2013, Jo-Ann volunteered her time and expertise. The First World War, she thought, should not be considered a vague or gloomy subject, but one that illuminated the bravery of those who volunteered to serve, especially the courageous women of the Corps.

Jo-Ann rewrote her novel, using all her recent research. In October 2013, she was delighted when her new version of her novel HEROIC MEASURES was published in print and digital formats world-wide. To share her knowledge, photographs and resources, Jo-Ann speaks at many events and writes a blog They Also Fought. She is delighted to serve as the curator of the new section about the Army Nurse Corps and welcomes all who have mementos, pictures or records of any kind to contribute to the collection.

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