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Margaret Quinn Letter, World War I, 1919

World War I - Letter by Nurse Margaret Quinn
New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B06_F08_Quinn_p1
Document Description
A letter written by World War I nurse Margaret Quinn to her family in 1919.
Document Description
A letter written by World War I nurse Margaret Quinn to her family in 1919.
In what building was the hospital in Germany located?
What furniture was in her apartment room?
What were three ways in which Margaret’s life in Germany was easier than it had been in France?
Why were American nurses sent to work in Europe?
Why do you think Margaret ended her letter with the words, “(I) wouldn’t have missed this experience for anything?”
Historical Challenges
Find out the names of the three American nurses who received the Distinguished Service Award. What did they do to earn the award?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Using an atlas, calculate the distance that Margaret traveled from America to France and then to Germany.
Science: Find out about some of the wounds and diseases the soldiers suffered during this war. What were the medical supplies that the nurses used?
English Language Arts: Pretend that you are Margaret’s father. Write a letter back to her, reflecting on some of the things that are happening on the home front in 1919.
Adams, Simon. Eyewitness World War I. DK Publishing, Inc., August 2004. ISBN: 075660740X
Levine, Beth. When Christmas Comes Again: The World War I Diary of Simone Spencer (Dear America Series). Scholastic, Inc., October 2002. ISBN: 0439439825
Lasky, Katherine. A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen, Washington, D.C., 1917 (Dear America Series). Scholastic, Inc., February 2002. ISBN: 0590511416
Green, Robert. Woodrow Wilson. Compass Point Books, January 2003. ISBN: 0756502748

Historical Context
According to the Red Cross, nearly 20,000 nurses served overseas in the Army, Navy, U.S. Public Health Service, and Red Cross during World War I.  These nurses did not have an easy task.  Many served in dangerous mobile medical units near the battle lines, where several were wounded.  Often, there were not enough doctors, nurses, and medical supplies to care for all the wounded and ill soldiers.  Living conditions could be harsh, and many nurses died from pneumonia and the influenza epidemic.  Despite these hardships, nurses were expected to be a friendly face and comforting presence for dying and recovering soldiers.
Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of the letter and evaluate the impact of World War I on Margaret Quinn and her family.