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Women in the U.S. Navy: Historic Documents

Establishment of Navy Nurse Corps, Public Law No. 115, 13 May 1908

Public Law No. 115, H.R. 20471, 13 May 1908

CHAP. 166.-An Act Making appropriations for the naval service for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and nine, and for other purposes...

[Note: The following is an extract from the section on the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, providing the full text of the portion relating to women.]

The nurse corps (female) of the United States Navy is hereby established, and shall consist of one superintendent, to be appointed by the Secretary of the Navy, who shall be a graduate of a hospital training school having a course of instruction of not less than two years, whose term of office may be terminated at his discretion, and of as many chief nurses, nurses, and reserve nurses as may be needed: Provided, That all nurses in the nurse corps shall be appointed or removed by the Surgeon-General, with the approval of the Secretary of the Navy, and that they shall be graduates of hospital training schools having a course of instruction not less than two years. The appointment of superintendent, chief nurses, nurses, and reserve nurses shall be subject to an examination as to their professional, moral, mental, and physical fitness, and that they shall be eligible for duty at naval hospitals and on board of hospital and ambulance ships and for such special duty as may be deemed necessary by the Surgeon-General of the Navy. Reserve nurses may be assigned to active duty when the necessities of the service demand, and when on such duty shall receive the pay and allowances of nurses: Provided, That they shall receive no compensation except when on active duty. The superintendent, chief nurses, and nurses shall respectively receive the same pay, allowances, emoluments, and privileges as are now or may hereafter be provided by or in pursuance of law for the nurse corps (female) of the Army.

Source: The Statutes at Large of the United States of America from December, 1907, to March, 1909. vol. 35, pt.1 Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909. pp.127 and 146.

26 May 1999