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Diary of World War I army nurse Ella Jane Osborn, January 1918 - April 1919 [Inventory]

Diary of World War I army nurse Ella Jane Osborn, January 1918 - April 1919 [Inventory]

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Ella Jane Osborn, originally from Wainscott, Long Island, New York, departed as an Army Nurse in January of 1918 and spent the majority of her assignment stationed near Toul and Nancy, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, near the German border. She traveled extensively, spending time in London, Paris, Cannes, Blois Monte Carlo, Nice, and Antibes. She returned to New York by boat in March of 1919. Occasionally describes a particularly sad or touching death. Discusses in great detail the rumors and news she receives regarding Allied victories and defeats, and the negotiations of Armistice between the warring factions. Focuses on the daily life and society she creates for herself in France. Most entries describe her daily schedule, chores she undertakes, and her social engagements. Describes social activities such as hitching rides with soldiers into nearby towns, nearly missing curfews, climbing mountains, and viewing moving pictures. Discusses a serious battle with what might have been the Spanish Flu during the pandemic of 1918. Entries date from 1 January 1918 until 29 April 1919.
Ella Jane Osborn, originally from Wainscott, Long Island, New York, departed as an Army Nurse in January of 1918 and spent the majority of her assignment stationed near Toul and Nancy, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, near the German border. She traveled extensively, spending time in London, Paris, Cannes, Blois Monte Carlo, Nice, and Antibes. She returned to New York by boat in March of 1919. Occasionally describes a particularly sad or touching death. Discusses in great detail the rumors and news she receives regarding Allied victories and defeats, and the negotiations of Armistice between the warring factions. Focuses on the daily life and society she creates for herself in France. Most entries describe her daily schedule, chores she undertakes, and her social engagements. Describes social activities such as hitching rides with soldiers into nearby towns, nearly missing curfews, climbing mountains, and viewing moving pictures. Discusses a serious battle with what might have been the Spanish Flu during the pandemic of 1918. Entries date from 1 January 1918 until 29 April 1919.

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12/03/2012

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Inventory GLC06570
Inventory GLC06570
Ella Jane Osborn Journal18 January 1918-29 April 19191 volume, approximately 245 pages + 4 inserts
COLLECTION OVERVIEW
Ella Jane Osborn’s journal provides insight into the experience of an American nurseserving in France at the end of World War I. Osborn, originally from Wainscott, LongIsland, New York, departed as an Army Nurse in January of 1918 and traveled by boatand then by train to her post in France. She spent the majority of her assignmentstationed near Toul and Nancy, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, near theGerman border. She traveled extensively, spending time in London, Paris, Cannes, Blois,Monte Carlo, Nice, and Antibes. She returned to New York by boat in March of 1919.Osborn discusses some of the medical treatment she offers as a nurse on the battle front,such as preparing dressings for wounds and working in the operating room. Sheoccasionally describes a particularly sad or touching death. On other occasions, shebriefly recounts the injuries of new patients; for example, in the entry for May 31, 1918,she writes: “Nearly 400 of our boys were gassed last night and are at 102 field Hosp.some are very bad. Some say it was Phosgene gas and others say Mustard.” Althoughshe tends to omit the details of her medical work, and does not often ruminate on her proximity to death and violence, these themes constantly surround her: she frequentlyvisits the cemetery near her base and often recounts how the noise from nearby airplanebattles wakes her up at night. She also discusses in great detail the rumors and news shereceives regarding Allied victories and defeats, and the negotiations of Armistice betweenthe warring factions.She focuses on the daily life and society she creates for herself in France. Most entriesdescribe her daily schedule, chores she undertakes, and her social engagements. Sherecounts her frequent clashes with her supervising nurse, Miss Lister. She describes thewalks, dinners, and outings she plans with her close friends Miss Forsythe, MissRottman, Miss Lent, and Miss McCormick, among others, and with the officers andsoldiers she gets to know. They get into many adventures, hitching rides with soldiersinto nearby towns, nearly missing curfews, climbing mountains, and viewing movingpictures. She takes two major trips to Paris and to the Cannes region. She also recountsthe sea-sickness she suffers from on the departing and returning trips to France, and aserious battle with what might have been the Spanish Flu during the pandemic of 1918.The journal is written in Osborn’s hand, and entries are arranged by date. The inventorylists her entries chronologically. From January 1, 1918 (she dates several pages butentries do not begin until January 18) until August 31, 1918, she writes her entries at thetop of each page. Beginning with the entry for September 1, 1919, she returns to the firstpage of the book and writes on the lower half of each page. This break is noted in theinventory. Thereafter, she occasionally writes the entries for several days on a single half 
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Inventory GLC06570
page; for example, short entries for January 30, 1919-February 2, 1919 are all written onthe bottom half of a single page. These occurrences have been noted in the inventory.Several longer entries continue onto the next page; these have been noted in the inventoryas well. Days of the week are included in the inventory when Osborn included them.Osborn transcribed several poems written by soldiers for funeral services, as well as thewords to Army songs she knew. These have been transcribed into the inventory, locatedwithin the entries for July 29, 1918-August 2, 1918. Finally, housed with this book areseveral loose documents which had been stuck between the pages of the book. Their original location in the book is noted in the inventory, listed next to the entry at the top of each page (thus, a document stuck between the entries for February 15 and 16, 1918,would be listed between those entries in the inventory, and not between October 19 and20, 1918, though those entries are on the bottom of the same pages.)
INVENTORY
1. 18 January 1918. Friday.
“About 4 o’clock Miss French received word the unit wasto mobilize & report to Ellis Island without delay, so there was some excitement, most of us had to sit up most of the night & pack & then did not finish. Phoned down to Lish that we were called out & to tell Bert to send some money.”
 2. 19 January 1918. Saturday. Mentions signing papers. Traveled to Ellis Island:
“Weare all on Island No. 3 & have to go to Island 1 for our meals. The weather is freezing cold & we get all the wind there is. The view from our window is wonderful, and theStatue of Liberty is some sight when lit up at night.”
3. 20 January 1918. Sunday. Did not have to report, so able to go to the Hospital for dinner, but finds her accommodations at Ellis Island comfortable:
“There are about 18of us in the long dormitory, the place used to be used for the imagrants
[sic]
and that isjust about what we feel like.”
4. 21 January 1918. Monday. Filled out papers, knits, went to roll call, and swept thedormitory.5. 22 January 1918. Tuesday. Fitted for uniforms, specifically gray uniforms and bluesuits. Went to the Red Cross headquarters for more equipment.6. 23 January 1918. Wednesday. Went to Hoboken for identification papers andpassports, and had pictures and fingerprints taken. Attended lunch and tea, and receivedletters by mail.7. 24 January 1918. Thursday. Signed papers in the morning and went shopping atWanamaker’s in the afternoon.
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8. 25 January 1918. Friday.
“After roll call we were drilled by a Lieu here on theIsland & had a lecture by same on respecting ‘our superiors.’”
Then purchased aLiberty Bond in Manhattan.9. 26 January 1918. Saturday. Obtained uniform shoes and new glasses.The previous two entries are out of order: Saturday is before Friday.10. 27 January 1918. Sunday. Mentions going to breakfast, writing letters and visiting“Madalines” in New York.11. 28 January 1918. Monday. Stayed on Ellis Island to fill out insurance cards; took out $10,000 in insurance.
The insurance policy certificate was stuck between the entry pages for 2 and 3 May,1918. It accompanies this book.
12. 29 January 1918. Tuesday. No shore leave again because they had to
“stay in tohave our uniforms fitted and to sign papers.”
13. 30 January 1918. Wednesday. Mentions having clothes tailored and attending adinner given by Dr. Berg at the Harmony Club.
“It was the first day we wore our uniforms.”
14. 31 January 31 1918. Thursday. Packed and sent home clothes she did not need; atelunch in town and then washed her hair.15. 1 February 1918. Friday. Wrote letters. Took a boat to the mainland for a receptiongiven for them at the Cosmopolitan Club.16. 2 February 1918. Saturday. Went to 42
nd
Street and got her travelers checks. Haddinner with Mary and Aunt Louie and came home on the 4 o’clock boat.17. 3 February 1918. Sunday. Had dinner at the Hospital and got on the 5 o’clock boat,but they got stuck in heavy fog and the boat did not leave till 9 o’clock.18. 4 February 1918. Monday. Stayed on the Island to sew and write letters.19. 5 February 1918. Tuesday.
“Orders at Roll Call No Shore leave for Base No. 3Orders at 12:30 Shore leave for three hours. Roll Call again for 4:30. Orders for 10a.m. Feb. 6 
th
. Everyone is terribly excited.”
20. 6 February 1918. Wednesday.
“Tuscania torpedoed 101 lost.”
Boarded the“Lapland” in New York Harbor and the boat pulled out about 3 p.m.
“I was sea sick and had to go in. The harbor is full of ice and we just plowed through it.”
Mentioned a
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