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Raycraft, Ruth M. : Papers, 1923-1991


Quantity

1 document case

Provenance

These papers were donated to the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston Library by Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, as part of his Dorchester collection (Archives Collection 119).

Biography

Ruth M. Raycraft was born on August 17, 1912, in Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up in Boston, attending the High School of Practical Arts, where she majored in domestic arts. From 1935 to 1938 she attended the Rockingham Hospital School of Nursing in Vermont. In 1939 she began her employment at Long Island Hospital. She would continue to work there until 1945, when she joined the Army Nurse Corps. World War II was still being fought, and in order to help wounded soldiers Raycraft was sent different hospitals, such as the USAHS Republic and La Garde General Hospital in Louisiana. 

In 1946 Raycraft became a member of the reserves and returned to her position at the Long Island Hospital. Beginning in 1950 she would have yearly training to in order to maintain her status as a reserve officer. In 1969 she obtained her highest ranking: Lieutenant Colonel. In December of 1969 she became the director of nursing services at the Long Island Chronic Disease Hospital, and she retired in 1970 or 1971. She retired from the Army Reserves in 1972. Though it is uncertain when exactly Raycraft died, the last photographs available were taken in 1991. She never married nor had children.

The United States Army Nurse Corps was officially founded in 1901. Although nurses had been serving in wars since 1775, it was not until this time that their service became part of the Army Medical Department. The importance of their role in the 1898 Spanish-American War had made it clear that a female nursing corps was necessary. At the beginning of the World War II there were less than 7,000 nurses on active duty. By 1945 there were more 57,000 army nurses. They worked in both the Atlantic and Pacific, some even becoming prisoners of war. By the end of the war 215 nurses had died while doing their duty. February 2, 2005 marked the 104th anniversary of the founding of the Army Nurse Corps, which still exists today.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of photographs taken during Raycraft’s adult life, including photographs from her military service in Panama in 1945, as well as records she kept concerning her military career. There are also miscellaneous ephemera and letters. The collection is organized into three series: Photographs, Military Records, and Miscellaneous.

 Series I. Photographs 1938?-1991

Most of the pictures are black and white, and are from Raycraft’s time in the army. The scrapbook photographs are of places she visited while in the service (such as Panama in 1945) or are of people in military uniform. There are a good number of pictures of Panama, including several from the Palo Saco Leper Colony. There are also photographs from the USAHS Republic, including pictures of the boat itself and the crew. These photographs were taken out of the scrapbook for preservation purposes, as it was in poor condition. However, scans of many of the scrapbook pages are available for viewing and printing upon request. The photographs that did not come from the scrapbook are mostly non-military, including a large wedding photograph and a substantial amount of photographs of informal get-togethers. Some of the photographs are unlabeled and may be from before 1938.

Series II. Military Records 1945-1989

Raycraft’s military records consist of a variety of different types of papers dealing with her time in the military (1945-1972).  They include internal requests for officer promotion, Raycraft’s application, and lists of her military assignments. They also include newspaper clippings related to the places in which she was stationed in 1945. The majority of the records are from 1950 to 1972. 

Series III. Miscellaneous 1923-1987

This series is composed of ephemera and letters. The ephemera are materials collected by Raycraft, such as menus from restaurants near the bases at which she was stationed and the letter informing her that she passed the nursing exam. There is also a ten cent note she brought back from Panama. There is also information from a scrapbook with some information from one of the years Raycraft was in nursing school. Lastly, there also three letters. One is a 1938 letter from a childhood acquaintance and the others are letters in the 1980s from a friend doing research on his family’s history. Included in the letters is a deed 1923 discharge of mortgage certificate from Benjamin Raycraft to Matthew Raycraft.