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Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities. 2017. 

Alabama NURSES

AT HOME AND ABROAD

Alabama nurses, with training and experience from places like St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham and Tuskegee Institute, answered the American Red Cross call for service in the fall of 1917.  White nurses served in the evacuation, base, and field hospitals of France and Italy. African American nurses were not allowed to serve overseas.

Ida Carrie Seale’s detailed scrapbook is an extraordinary record of one World War I nurse’s experience. Seale was born in Fort Deposit in 1876, and she attended the Nurses Training School at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, graduating in 1903. In 1908 she took courses at the Nurses Training School at California Hospital, in Los Angeles. She served as a nurse with the Army during the war and was stationed at Limoges, France, at American Base Hospital No. 24. Following the war, she served as a school nurse in Rockwall County, Texas, 1920-1921, until she had a nervous breakdown because of her war experiences. She spent three years in different hospitals seeking treatment for her condition.

 

In the fall of 1918, nurses served at the forefront of the massive influenza pandemic that swept across the country.  By the end of the year, nearly 145,000 cases of flu were reported in Alabama and almost 5,500 died as a result.  Military bases in Alabama were not exempt from influenza.

"For five days, I’ve seen nothing but rain and sick men...If the ‘flu’ keeps up much longer the casualty list over here will be longer than the one in France."
LUCY JUDKINS DURR, MONTGOMERY
 "Eight miles from Talladega in the back woods, a colored family of ten were in bed and dying for the want of attention.  As I entered the little country cabin I found the mother dead in bed.  Three children buried the week before.  The father and the remainder of the family running a temperature of 102-104. I saw at a glance I had work to do.  I rolled up my sleeves and killed chickens and  began to cook.  I forgot I was not a cook, but I only thought of SAVING LIVES."
BESSIE B. HAWSE, TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE GRADUATE