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Louise Martha Jark, World War I Red Cross Nurse, c. 1917

Louise Martha Jark
New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B02_F46_Jark_photo
Document Description
Photograph of Louise Martha Jark, a Red Cross nurse, who worked in Europe for the United States Army Base Hospital Base No. 21 during World War I, c. 1917.
Describe the clothing worn by Louise Martha Jark in this photograph.
What role did the American Red Cross nurses play in World War I?
What types of services did the Red Cross provide to soldiers?
What types of services did the Red Cross provide to returning veterans?
List other wars in which the Red Cross was a valuable resource for the U.S. military?
Historical Challenges
Research the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service or the Hospital and Recreation Corps and summarize the major programs and events that they sponsored for returning veterans.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Create a collage of pictures of Red Cross nurses and Red Cross activities during World War I.
“The American Journal of Nursing.” American Nurses Association, Nurses' Associated Alumnae of the United States. The American Journal of Nursing Company: Baltimore, Maryland, April 1917. Volume 17, Issue 2.

Historical Context
Louise Martha Jark was a Red Cross nurse stationed at the United States Army Base Hospital No.21 (service in Europe). She, along with many other nurses came from Barnes Hospital, in St. Louis, Missouri.

The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton who first came to widespread public attention as an amateur nurse who provided aid to soldiers during the Civil War. She traveled to Europe where she learned about the International Red Cross and served as a Red Cross volunteer in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Barton formed the American Red Cross in 1881.  

From the start, nursing played an important role in American Red Cross history. Soon after the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Red Cross sent medical supplies, doctors and 125 nurses to Europe to provide aid to military and civilian victims on both sides of the conflict.

During the 20 months of U.S. participation in World War I, the Red Cross recruited over 29,000 nurses to serve with the U.S. military at home and overseas.  The Red Cross nurses supplied aid to the U.S. armed forces and to the military and civilians of its allies.  Nurses served at emergency stations near the front, field hospitals behind the lines, and at base hospitals away from the battle lines and in the United States.

The Red Cross introduced the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service in 1918 to help overworked nurses at home take care of returning veterans who needed medical attention.  They also established a Hospital and Recreation Corps in 1918 to provide recreational services to veterans.

Essential Question
How do women contribute to national issues?
Check for Understanding
Describe the woman in the photograph and explain her role in World War I.