Taking Care of the Essentials

Dublin Core


Taking Care of the Essentials


Everyday life for US nurses in WWII


This collection of photographs and objects is meant to represent to interested viewers the myriad items and experiences that made up everyday existence for nurses serving in World War II. It includes material culture items they used, what they ate, how they stayed clean, and some of the struggles they dealt with when giving up creature comforts.

Collection Items

"The Powder Room"
These women, tip-toeing through the muddy slush surrounding the tent they call, "The Powder Room," in their pajamas, are the epitome of some of the more comical struggles World War II nurses faced on the front lines. Serving in the Mediterranean…

Somewhere in the Middle East
In this photo, 2nd Lt. Ann Ruth Orrick, an army nurse in the Ninth US Air Force, is fixing her hair in a strangely random outdoor vanity. Orrick, stationed in the Middle East, specifically Bengasi, Cirenaica, Libya, was lucky to have access to a…

30 Days Without A Bath
This photograph from 1945 is one of the few that shows the full everyday realities involved in serving as a nurse, especially overseas, during World War II. While it is unclear whether or not the donor of these images, US Army nurse Joy Lillie, is…

The food you see in these photographs represents the kind of "chow" that all military personnel, including nurses, had to eat in the field during World War II. Some nurses' most prominent memories of everyday life during their service involved…

This water canteen was used by one of the nurses who served in the Pacific theater on the island of Bataan. It is unclear whether or not the woman who used it was one of the prisoners of war held by the Japanese on Bataan, but this canteen is…
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