Thursday, April 20, 2017 -
1:00pm to 5:00pm
Midwest Nursing History Research Center
845 S. Damen Avenue 3rd fl. Event Center
Chicago, IL 60612

U.S. Nursing in the First World War: A Symposium

The Edith Ayres and Helen Burnett Wood Memorial Symposium

Presented in support of the United States World War One Centennial Commission, Illinois Centennial Committee

Five noted historians and archivists, all experts in the history of WWI Nursing and in the history of three of the Chicago base hospitals that served the wounded in France, will present their scholarship. Discussion will follow.

One hundred years ago, on May 20 1917, Edith Ayres and Helen Burnett Wood were the first U.S. Army personnel killed after the United States entered World War One. They were both nurses serving with Chicago’s Base Hospital #12. Edith Ayres graduated from the Illinois Training School for Nurses in 1913; Helen Burnett Wood graduated one year later from the Evanston Hospital Training School. Shell fragments hit them and one other nurse, Emma Matzen, during gunnery drill aboard the S.S. Mongolia while en route to France.

The Midwest Nursing History Research Center, Chicago Area Medical Archivists, and Northwestern University are jointly sponsoring a symposium to honor their memory and the memory of all the nurses and healthcare personnel who served during "The War to End All Wars."

Registration is at:


Preliminary Program

Remembering Edith Ayres and Helen Burnett Wood

Susan Sacharski, Archivist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital;
Yvonne Spura, Archivist, Northwestern University

From Cook County Hospital to the Base Hospitals: Illinois Nurses in World War I

Marian Moser Jones, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, University of Maryland

Base Hospital #12: The Northwestern University Unit

Susan Sacharski, Archivist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital;
Yvonne Spura, Archivist, Northwestern University

Letters Home: Experiences of US Nurses in World War One

Kelley Pattison, Assistant Professor, Western Michigan University, Bronson School of Nursing

Break with Refreshments

“I’ll Cut You With a Knife”: Tales of Presbyterian Hospital’s Base Hospital 13 and St. Luke’s Hospital’s Base Hospital 14

Nathalie Wheaton, Archivist, Rush University Medical Center Archives

“The Biggest Man in the Balkans”: Helen Scott Hay and the US Red Cross Efforts in Eastern Europe, 1914 – 1922

Karen Egenes, Associate Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Niehoff School of Nursing


Moderated by Brigid Lusk and Kevin O’Brien