Instruments of Healing

Dublin Core


Instruments of Healing


Medical equipment used by and encountered by American nurses in World War II


This collection outlines only a few of the medical supplies and equipment used during World War II. Nurses would have either used these supplies themselves, or would have come into close contact with them during their service. These materials would not have been completely unique to America but likely used by other countries at the time as well.

Collection Items

Making Bandages
This image captures nurses at the 5th General Hospital in France preparing plaster bandages, an important tool used by military nurses and other medical personnel every day during the war.

Checking for Essentials
Ensign Jane Kendeigh, USNR, is shown here checking over her medical supplies kit one last time en route to the battlefield at Iwo Jima on March 6, 1945. Kendeigh is on a US Navy transport plane, and was the first navy flight nurse to be on any…

Normal Human Plasma
The colorful image shown here, of paper and cardboard packets, are packages containing dried human blood plasma donated by the American Red Cross for the war effort. These packets have a bottle of plasma in them, along with a bottle of distilled…

The pills pictured are the drug quinacrine, more commonly know by its brand name of atabrine. This drug was the next best thing to quinine, which was not readily available during the war due to the Japanese capture of the Dutch East Indies. Atabrine…

Sulfa Shaker
These large and small packets of sulfa drugs, specifically crystalline sulfanilamide, were meant to be applied directly to open wounds. Individual soldiers had the small packets issued to them in their first aid kits, and were trained in how to use…

Just Add Water
The brown packets shown in one of the pictures in this set are individual sulfadiazine tablet packages. These drugs were given to each soldier in his first aid kit. These tablets, shown unpackaged in the second photograph, came in packs of eight. A…

Blood Pressure
This picture is a great representation of the type of blood pressure equipment any nurse may have encountered both at home and overseas during the war. This device looks much different from the kinds of blood pressure cuffs we are used to today,…

This image shows US Navy Flight Nurse Ensign Miriam R. Serrick, from North Carolina, giving a patient a penicillin injection during an evacuation flight in 1945.

Penicillin, discovered by bacteriologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, was used…

The Iron Lung
This image depicts another type of medical equipment used during the war, the iron lung. A type of ventilator that has since (thankfully) been replaced by the modern respirator machines we see in hospitals today, this device helped patients who were…
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