Florence J. Martin (1876-1963) was born in Jeffersonville, Ind. and lived in Indianapolis for most of her life. On April 4, 1917, at the very beginning of U.S. involvement in World War I, she was appointed chief nurse of Base Hospital 32. Base Hospital 32 was largely funded through contribution from Eli Lilly & Company.
In December of 1917, Miss Martin and the nurses of Base Hospital 32 sailed on the U.S.S. George Washington across the Atlantic and began their journey to Contréxeville, France. Throughout the war, Base Hospital 32 cared for patients from over 30 countries and faced injuries from gas attacks, Spanish Influenza epidemics and overcrowding, among other wounds from wartime. For her service, which lasted the duration of the war, Miss Martin received the French Medal of Honor on March 18, 1919.
Her scrapbook (V334) at the Indiana State Library in the Rare Books & Manuscripts Division, includes letters, photographs, postcards, news clippings, official orders and memoranda from 1917 to 1919 chronicling her experiences as a nurse during World War I.
Sources used: Benjamin D. Hitz, A History of Base Hospital 32, (Indianapolis, IN: Edward Kahle Post No. 42 American Legion, 1922)
This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.