In Her Own Right

Edith Madeira papers

Date created 1900-1951 (bulk 1917-1919)
Creator Edith Madeira
Abstract Edith Madeira (1865-1951) served as the chief nurse for the American Red Cross Commission to Palestine from June 1918 to January 1919. The Commission was formed "to look after the sickness and starvation of the civilian population in the occupied area of Palestine." The papers of Edith Madeira consist of typescript letters, 1917-1919; her "Report for Nursing Service" detailing the Commission's work in Palestine; Madeira's nursing diploma and license; memoirs detailing her voyage to Palestine, by way of South Africa and the Indian Ocean; memoirs featuring her service in Palestine and surrounding regions; and a scrapbook filled with photographs, memorabilia, and a few plant specimens.
Research interest These papers offer historians the opportunity to explore how women negotiated a place they were not supposed to be—the frontlines of war—in a profession that was not always recognized as such—nursing. Yet, Madeira was in a privileged position in relation to those she was helping. Much has been written about interactions between Progressive reformers and those whom they were trying to aid in the context of the United States. Madeira's papers—especially the several drafts of her report of her experiences—provide researchers with an opportunity to see what happened when a sensibility focused on efficiency and a certain brand of professionalism traveled abroad. In addition to commentary on the war, Madeira's report is replete with observations on Palestinian natives hired to work in the hospital, Armenian refugees, Africans, and others, all of whom she approached employing an Orientalist gaze.
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Contributing institution Historical Society of Pennsylvania
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