Cover image for A history of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
A history of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
Sarnecky, Mary T.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 518 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
UH493 .S27 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
UH493 .S27 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Thousands of women have served in the Nurse Corps of the U. S. Army. Many of them worked in war zones, where their extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and toughness first astonished and then won the respect of male officers. Their skill and dedication helped to save tens of thousands of lives and made the Army Nurse Corps an essential part of the American military establishment. Until now, there has been no comprehensive work that tells that story.

In this book Mary Sarnecky describes the major stages in the development of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, discusses the political and social context in which this development occurred, identifies the factors that have influenced the Corps' stature and reputation within the nursing community, and explores the impact of the Corps upon the profession of nursing. At the same time, she described the experiences of the nurses themselves--often in their own words.

The history is as surprising as it is violent: during World War I, nurses were the first American Army units to fly the United States flag in France from their base hospitals in support of British troops. In World War II, Army nurses served at every front, from Alaska to the Philippines, from England to the beaches of Anzio, where several died in bombings while tending to the wounded. With the advent of helicopters to transport wounded soldiers rapidly to hospitals, MASH units and their nurses became immediate caretakers of severely traumatized patients from front-line action in the Korean War. These units continued their work in the next decade during the Vietnam War.

The story of these women and of the organization they created in the midst of one of our most deliberately masculine institutions is important to both the history of the military and the history of women in America.

Author Notes

Mary T. Sarnecky, RN, DNSc, CS, FNP, is a Colonel, Army Nurse Corps (ret.).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Sarnecky, a retired Army Nurse Corps colonel, spent six years writing this book. She seeks to outline historical issues of nursing and hopes to foster pride and identity for the corps. Using official sources, personal letters, and a wealth of published secondary and primary materials, she provides a detailed account of military nursing from its Revolutionary War origins through the Vietnam era. Her documentation is meticulous and her anecdotes are illuminating, but because of the work's comprehensive nature, her analysis lacks depth. The last chapter, however, identifies eight issues that recurred throughout the corps's history. Questions such as what military nursing should entail, who should provide nursing care, and what status should be afforded nurses could have provided an organizational framework for each chapter, but in an effort to cover much information in few pages, Sarnecky uses a chronological and geographical approach, rather than a thematic one. Unlike other Army branches, the Army Nurse Corps has no official history written as part of the US Army Center for Military History series. This book fills that gap as a work essential to any study of the corps or military medicine. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. A. Luckett; United States Military Academy