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Symbol of life

Date: 1945
Overall: 790 x 593 mm
Medium: Ink on paper with linen backing
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Poster
Object No: 00033868
Place Manufactured:United States

User Terms

    A nurse is depicted wearing a caduceus (crest featuring a staff with two serpents) and sits with a recovering patient in this propaganda poster. The emblem of the Caduceus was worn by American Nurses as a symbol of life and hope. This poster was issued by the US Nursing Corps to promote recruits and depicts women in the traditional role of supportive carers.
    SignificanceThis is typical of how women and nurses were portrayed in propaganda posters as passive caring figures.
    HistoryAs a result of government propaganda, American women whether motivated by patriotism, independence or necessity, joined the American work force as nurses, factory workers or members of Auxiliary Armies. In July 1944, when the war was at its peak, over 19 million women were employed in jobs traditionally done by men.

    Nursing was a respectable employment and the mass entrance of women into nursing corps allowed more Doctors to work on the front line. In the early stages of the war, recruitment posters presented women in passive and supporting roles like nursing. By the final stages of the conflict women were being depicted in more traditional masculine roles such as the army corps.

    Although millions of American women stepped in to serve their country, their jobs were not made easier by their male colleagues or husbands. Women faced discrimination in hiring practices, job placement and pay rates.
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