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.