Friday, July 22, 2016

The Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing (Class of 1947)

My mother is a graduate of the Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing.  She graduated in 1947 and was a member of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps before it was disbanded in 1948.  The Cadet Nurse Corps was established by Congress in June 1943 and was signed into law by FDR on July 1, 1943.  A woman between the ages of 17 and 35 was eligible to enter the program if she graduated from an accredited high school and was in good health. The purpose of the Cadet Nurse Corps was to assure that there would be a sufficient supply of nurses to care for Americans serving abroad in World War II and to care for Americans at home.  The Corps was overseen by the U.S. Public Health Service. 

My mother joined the Cadet Nurse Corps at age 17 shortly after she graduated from high school. She was admitted to the Corps on November 6, 1944. She is pictured in her Cadet Nurse uniform immediately below.

When Japan surrendered in August of 1945 Truman set the final date for student admission to the Nurse Cadet Corps as October 5, 1945. Just over 116,000 students were still in training at the time of Truman's order and about 3,000 more were admitted for the final days of the program. Student nurses were then providing some 80% of nursing care in the country. A period of time was allowed for the orderly transition away from the Cadet Nurse Program and it finally ended in 1948.  My mother entered the Rhode Island Hospital School of nursing in the fall of 1944 (about a year after the Cadet Nurse Corps was established) and was admitted to the Corps that November as shown on her membership card below.

The Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing was organized in the fall of 1882 when it was known as the Rhode Island Hospital Training School for Nurses. After 91 years of service, the program was shuttered and the school closed in June 1973.

Over the course of its life, the Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing provided thousands of nurses to the state of Rhode Island, the other New England states, and, during the years of 1943 - 1948, to the nation.  Many (if not most, or even the vast majority) of the 1947 graduates of the Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing became members of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps -- my mother among them. 

Shown below is the program for the Commencement ceremony for the Rhode Island Hospital School of Nursing Class of 1947 held on September 17, 1947 at the Rhode Island School of Design Auditorium.  Shirley Carpenter (the 16th name in the first column) is my mother.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

All images scanned from original documents in the collection of the author except: (1) the Cadet Nurse Corps poster taken from the ebay "cadet nurse" memorabilia listings at; and (2) the image of my mother's Cadet Nurse membership card obtained via the author's membership.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


  1. Whenever I see a post about nursing, I think of my own grandmother who came from Canada and got trained in the U. S. But, I don't know where. She was on duty at the hospital and helped deliver me. However, you are quite fortunate to know everything about your mother and her nursing days. Nice to have the original membership card. I'm sure your mother enjoyed this post.

    1. I think she did, but we talk every Sunday so I won't know until later today. ;-)