Nurses Without Borders: The History of Nursing as U.S. International History

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During World War I and its aftermath, thousands of U.S. nurses put their domestic careers on hold to work overseas. Many volunteered in the wake of war and disaster. Others worked as instructors in nursing schools and as the staff of fledgling public health agencies. This article charts the international travels of four especially mobile nurses, whose globetrotting careers took them to Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. These women aspired to tackle world health issues, motivated by the conviction that the spread of U.S. professional nursing ideas stood to modernize the world. This article tells these nurses' stories and analyzes their ideologies of development and progress. In so doing, it demonstrates that professional women, working outside state channels, played a principal role in expanding U.S. influence in the world. Moreover, it makes the case for the centrality of nursing history to the history of U.S. foreign relations.

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Nursing History Review, v. 19, issue 1, p. 78-102