World War and Veterans
Training Women for the Postwar World
When Representative Frances Bolton’s long House career began in 1940, it was just six months into World War II, and she was initially reluctant to see the United States get involved. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor turned her away from isolationism, however, and she fully committed to both military preparedness and America’s intention to participate in postwar international organizations. Like some of her colleagues, her wartime focus was healthcare. In 1943, she authored the Bolton Act, creating a U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, which provided funding to train nurses in exchange for military service—the largest experiment in federally subsidized education to date. Bolton felt that nursing was the “number one service for women, not only in time of war when . . . lives depend upon nursing care but also in peacetime.” Also remarkable was the nondiscrimination clause of the act, opening an unusual educational opportunity for minority women. Though the act ended in 1948, it changed nursing education to an academic discipline, adding to the respect and authority of the job. This news photo, taken the year after the Bolton Act's passage, documented the Congresswoman's trip to England to inspect military hospitals, and the nursing program she’d helped to create. Bolton awarded a Purple Heart to a fellow Ohioan, Sergeant Arthur Cassidy, who was treated at one such hospital.