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Army Nurse Corps Cap
Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Army Nurse Corps Cap

Catalog #: 43934    Accession #: 167648
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 4" H x 9" W x 8" D

Physical Description

Olive-drab material with a close-fitting body, a stitched, semi-rigid visor, and a narrow front strap. The cap is peaked in front and reinforced with haircloth to support the weight of the full sized officer's hat insignia depicting the Great Seal of the US. The cap was also made of other materials to match the summer beige or white dress uniforms.

Specific History

This service cap was specifically designed for the Army Nurse Corps in 1942. Known at the time as the "new service cap," it was made of different types of materials to match either the winter olive drab, summer beige or dress white uniforms. This cap was worn with the winter uniform. The Army Nurse Corps cap is a distinctive item for nurses only; a different hat was worn by members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC). The uniforms of WACs and nurses were later standardized, and the nurses and WACs then wore the same cap.

General History

While the Nurse Corps was founded in 1901 as a component of the army, women have served as nurses and care-givers in American conflicts from the colonial period on. By World War II, the Army Nurse Corps was poised to take on increasing responsibilities. With fewer than 1,000 nurses on December 7, 1941, more than 59,000 nurses would serve before the war ended. Because of an acute shortage of nurses, a plan was developed to meet the demand through a draft. However, the war ended before this plan was implemented. Nurses served throughout the world, in all theaters, on land, sea, and air, and under combat conditions. Among those captured when US forces surrendered in the Philippines were 67 nurses. These nurses were liberated in February 1945. Sixteen nurses died as a result of hostile fire. Four nurses were awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry under fire at Anzio; one award was posthumous. During World War II only females could serve in the Army Nurse Corps. An early quota limiting the number of African American women who could serve as nurses was eliminated, but these nurses faced discrimination until segregation in the military services was ended by President Truman's Executive Order in 1948. Although nurses were in the army, their status was not equal to those of male officers. The inequities of rank remaining were removed with the passage of the Army-Navy Nurses' Act of 1947 (Public Law 36) allowing nurses to become part of the Regular Army.


Keywords

Country: United States
War: World War II
Service: Army
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