Launch week of Love’s Brilliant Wreckage is almost over (99¢ until 6-25-18 midnight or whenever Amazon flips the switch). I thought I’d share some of the WWII research I uncovered as I wrote Annie’s journey.
At the start of the novel, Annie Faraday is ten weeks away from graduating from Dunlap-Dodge School of Nursing, a fictional college oh-so-loosely based on Butterworth Hospital School of Nursing in Grand Rapids, MI. She applies for and is accepted at the Pioneer Nursing and Midwife Academy in Millersburg, TN, which is based on Frontier Nursing Services in southeastern Kentucky,
established by Mary Breckenridge in 1925.
Fun fact: my daughter graduates from Frontier this fall with a master’s degree in midwifery.
The Bolton Act of 1943
Annie started her training in 1942 with a little money inherited from her grandfather. By 1943, the United States Cadet Nurse Corps, formed under the Bolton Act, paid her nursing school tuition.
An existing nurses shortage in 1940 brought together leaders of the Red Cross, the American Nurses Association, and federal agencies involve with nursing. Together, they formed the Nursing Council for National Defense, which determined 100K nurses were eligible for military service if needed. They also determined that most nursing schools could not expand their instructional or housing capabilities. The Council went to the federal government for funds for nursing education.
By 1943, the Army and Navy called for 2,500 new nurses each month. Something had to be done.
The Bolton Act passes in 1943
Representative Frances P. Bolton of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress calling for funding for the training of nursese. The Bolton Act passed both houses and FDR signed it into law on July 1, 1943.
In return for pledging to actively serve in civilian and government services during the war, the goverment paid for tuition, books, uniforms, and a living stipend to the nurses. 1,125 nursing schools took part, graduating 124,065 nurses. The program operated from 1943 to 1948, with the last enrollment occuring in fall, 1945.
The standard 36 month training period shortened to 30 months. It required senior nurses like Annie to spend their last six months of training in a federal or non-federal hospital, or in another health agency. I bent the rules a little and added her to the staff of her future father-in-law, Dr. Stephen Smith.
Fun fact: In January, 1945, FDR proposed a nursing draft. A bill passed in the House and came within one vote of the Senate before Germany surrenders. Annie faced the real threat of being drafted.
Fun fact #2: The Bolton Act prohibited discrimination against race, creed, or color.
We learn about Jimmy Smith, Annie’s fiance, through his letters, specifically V-mail.
Because of the volume of letters crossing both oceans to and from the homefront to the war, the United States turned to V-mail, or Victory Mail, a practice invented in the 1930’s by Eastman Kodak and used in Britian to reduce the weight and bulk of mail carried by air.
Special letter sheets, 7″ x 9-1/8″ sent by service men would go through mail censors, be photographed and put on microfilm. At their destination, the negative would be printed on a 4-1/4″ x 5-1/4″ new document. The practice reduced the size of 150,000 letters to one mail sack.
On the homefront side, the post office provided two free sheets a day to their customers, or the letter writers could purchase them locally. The stationery served as a letter and envelope in one. Specific areas on the sheets for writing made the copying and microfilming easier.
V-mail reduced shipping room that went to military equipment. It kept morale high, and resulted in more than a few wartime romances. Although Annie and Jimmy expressed frustration at the speed of their communication, the typical turn-around time was 2-3 weeks, remarkable for the steps involved and the distances covered.
Learn more about V-mail here.
Love’s Brilliant Wreckage continues on sale for 99¢ through June 25th, when the price increases to $3.99. A paperback edition is also available.
Amazon paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1982980281
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/loves-brilliant-wreckage-cheryl-sterling/1128760650?ean=2940155513483
Next week, we’ll look at rationing (shoes! tires! diapers!), the 1945 World Series, and Magic Carpets.
Blessings until then,
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