Nursing and Service to the Armed Forces are both important parts of the storied past of the American Red Cross. With the outbreak of World War I, these services worked together to provide much needed care for the United States military. The Nursing Service was established in 1909, and this branch of the Red Cross increased its activity as conflict spread across Europe in June 1914. When the U.S. became involved in the Great War in 1917 and an influenza pandemic rattled the globe in 1918, the demand for nurses grew even greater, both domestically and internationally. The Red Cross enrolled 23,822 nurses during the war, and 19,931 of these nurses were sent overseas. On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the Louisville Area Chapter honored World War I Red Cross nurse Margaret Dugan Winter (1892-1962). The Legacy Award was presented to her daughter, Margaret Winter White of Louisville.
|Mrs. Margaret Winter White accepting a Legacy Award honoring her mother, Mrs. Margaret Dugan Winter, from Louisville Area Chapter Board Chair Bill Lamb|
Born Margaret May Dugan, and known as Maggie May, the Jeffersonville, Indiana native served as a Red Cross nurse on the homefront and abroad. She trained at Louisville City Hospital and became a Registered Nurse in 1917. On November 19 of that year, she was sworn in as Red Cross Nurse #14957, and she was quickly called to active duty. Her first assignment took her to the U.S. Army hospital at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia in 1918. The influenza pandemic was in full force, and she cared for many patients who fell ill with the virus. Later that year, she was assigned to Base Hospital Unit #56 and sent overseas, where she spent seven months in Allerey, France. The war ended in November 1918, and she was discharged from active duty on June 5, 1919.
Following her service with the Red Cross, Mrs. Winter continued her career as a nurse, and also her work with military veterans. Soon after the war, she spent time working for the Veterans Bureau, assisting with the claims of disabled soldiers in Eastern Kentucky. In the 1930s and 40s, she served as chairwoman of the American Legion Auxiliary Christmas shop where hospitalized veterans could pick out gifts for their families.
A number of Mrs. Winter’s family members were present to witness her being honored. Ernest Edward Morris, grandson of Mrs. Winter, has other family connections to the early years of the American Red Cross as well. His great-grandfather Ernest P. Bicknell spent 27 years with the organization, including time overseas during World War I as the Deputy Commissioner to France, Commissioner to Belgium, and Special Commissioner to the Balkan States, all while serving as a member of several international relief organizations. In addition to Mrs. White and Mr. Morris, other family members present were A. Franklin White (husband of Mrs. White), Glenda Terrell Morris (wife of Mr. Morris), Elizabeth Winter (granddaughter of Mrs. Winter, and Stuart A. White (son of Mrs. White and grandson of Mrs. Winter).
The remarkable expansion of the American Red Cross during World War I can be attributed to the crucial care and comfort provided to military members and civilians around the world. The Red Cross would not be the humanitarian organization it is today without volunteers like Margaret Dugan Winter. We are grateful for her contributions, and we are proud to honor her service.
Click here to learn more about the Red Cross and its efforts during World War I.
Biographical information provided by the family of Margaret Dugan Winter.
Haack, Alison. “Ernest P. Bicknell – Red Cross Humanitarian”, Indiana University Archives, last modified April 8, 2014, accessed April 28, 2016, https://blogs.libraries.indiana.edu/iubarchives/2014/04/08/c520/.