After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, everyone on the home front within the United States wanted to know how they could help. More than likely it was your own grandparents, great grandparents, an uncle or aunt who did they part in the war effort. Many young men joined the military service as did many women signing up for the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), as well as the Navy and Army Air Corps divisions established for women.
What many people did not realize was that many young women who were not working in factories producing necessary military supplies and equipment or did not join a military branch, selected to become nurses. A special program was established, titled Cadet Nursing Corps, to train women to serve as nurses in military hospitals, health agencies and in civilian facilities where needed during the war. To help enlist more women, their tuition was subsidized, uniforms supplied, housing provided along with an allowance of $15 to $30 a month. Some 1,125 nursing schools across the nation participated in the program.
Women between the ages of 17 to 35 were encouraged to take this opportunity to further their education, learn a valuable skill and help with the war effort. The whole program set up in locations across the country actually was so intense that what was normally completed in 3 years and done in 30 months of training. Another interesting aspect was that women from many different family lineages and socially, economically and ethnic backgrounds were encouraged to be in the Cadet Nursing Corps. There were some forty Native Indians, 3,000 African-Americans and numerous Japanese-Americans enrolled in the Cadet Nursing program. Their advertisements stated this was a "war job with a future." It helped enlarge the pool of available nurses not only during World War II, but for years afterwards.
To see if you had a female ancestor or relative who was part of the Corps., Ancestry.com has placed online a collection of over 124,000 Cadet Nursing Corps Records. There are World War II records running from 1942 to well past the war’s end. For those already with Ancestry.com subscription you can search right away. If you do not have a subscription, there is the 14-day free trial allowing you to check out this interesting collection.
Remember when putting in a surname in the search box use a maiden name, since most cadets were single. However, not all were, many newly wed ladies joined the Corps. after their husbands entered the military service. There are membership cards on cadets labeled ‘A’ and one labeled ‘B’ and some without any notification, each with different information.
There are other nursing training students’ records at other time periods for a total of 300,000 records. An impressive selection to look through.
I already knew my mother’s cousin had trained in the Cadet Nursing Corps. However with an official record with dates, it provided a primary source to backup the information. Her 1944 card appears above and she did continue in nursing for decades.