This collection documents the experiences of a nurse in the Navy Nurse Corps serving in the South Seasduring World War II. There are four scrapbooks, listed alphabetically, A through D, containing photographs, postcards, and correspondence, the majority of them being photographs. All four scrapbooks seem to represent the same time periods, beginning with her training in 1942 at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland, and concluding with the end of her military nursing service in Base Hospital No. 2 in New Hebrides, New Zealand in 1944. The collection also includes a diary, c. 1935-1937, that contains the specific details of her training as a nurse at Rockingham County Memorial Hospital Nurses School. The collection has a comprehensive and detailed narrative Fechtmann wrote and compiled called: My Scrapbook: An Album of Memories that contains many of the pictures and documents in the scrapbooks, and many more documents including correspondence, poems and explanations of what that specific document represented to her. The narrative also tells the complete history of her family, her own life and her experiences in the Navy Nurse Corps during World War II. Documents of particular interest include correspondence between herself and the mother of a slain soldier under Fechtmann’s care. In Oversized Box F4 are Fechtmann’s diplomas and an article by Eleanor Roosevelt in the Feb. 1944 issue of the Ladies Home Journal which features a picture of Fechtmann and Roosevelt at the bedside of a wounded soldier.
Dora Cline was born in 1913 on a farm near Broadway, Virginia. She graduated from high school in 1933. Family illnesses in her large family and the influence of two nurses in her childhood inspired her to pursue a career in nursing. She took her nurses training at Rockingham County Memorial Hospital Nurses training in 1934 and worked for two and a half years as a neuro-psychiatric nurse at a Veterans Hospital and later as a public health nurse for the state of Virginia. She joined the Navy Nurse Corps in 1942, just as the United States “was plunged into the Second World War.” After seven weeks of military training at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland, she was stationed at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland in 1942 and then immediately sent to the South Seas in the Pacific. She served briefly as a nurse at the U. S. Navy Mobile Hospital No. 4 in New Zealand and for a longer period of time at Base Hospital No. 4 in Efate, New Hebrides. The soldiers under her care came from battles in the Solomon Islands; it appeared from her correspondence that she also wrote letters of consolation to the families of those soldiers who died in her ward. She saw places such as New Caledonia, New Zealand, New Hebrides, and Fiji. She met and married her husband, Fred Fechtmann, in Auckland, New Zealand in 1944. She returned to the United States in May of 1944. After the war she continued to practice in Harrisonburg, Virginia as a public health, private duty nurse, and a physical therapist. She retired in 1977 and lived in Ocala, Florida until her death in 2006.
Scope and Content
In Oversized Box F4: Folder 5:
“What I saw in the South Seas” by Eleanor Roosevelt, includes pictures of soldiers and nurses (Fechtmann is actually “Dorothy Kline), pg. 26(3), Ladies Home Journal, Feb. 1944
Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Training School for Nurses, Art of Nursing diploma, 1937
High School Diploma, Bridgewater High School, 1933
Registered Nurse Degree, State of Virginia, 1937 (handwritten note by Fechtmann attached)
New Zealand, Free Lance, military newsletter, 1943
1 - CD - (10) photographs, Dora Cline Fechtmann
Navy Nurses at Base Hospital #2, Efate, New Hebrides, 1943
1.Navy Nurses Drilling, dress right formation, New Zealand, 1943
2.Fechtmann and husband, Fred, (on left)
3.Fechtmann in Navy whites, c. 1942
4.Fechtmann in uniform, (note on back says taken on her honeymoon), 1944
5.Fechtmann & fellow nurse, 1944
6.Fechtmann & husband, Fred, wedding picture, St. David’s Presbyterian Church, Auckland, New Zealand, April 18th, 1944
7.Nurses and Soldiers relax together, egg throwing contest, Fiji, 1944
8.“Travel Allowance for Navy Nurse Corps,” handout, not dated
9.World War II nurses and patients, Auckland, New Zealand, c. 1944
2 - CD - Eleanor Roosevelt, pictures taken from “What I saw in the South Seas” by Eleanor Roosevelt, (Fechtmann is actually “Dorothy Kline), pg. 26(3), Ladies Home Journal, Feb. 1944
1.“I have come home with admiration for the work our nurses and Red Cross workers are doing overseas.”
2.Mrs. Roosevelt pins Purple Heart on soldier
3.Roosevelt & Fechtmann at Efate, New Hebrides, hospital
4.Mrs. Roosevelt in mess hall with soldiers
Box 1 Folder 1: Scrapbook A, pages 1-8, section I, c. 1944, pictures of wedding, New Zealand, Bethesda Navy Hospital, Maryland, honey moon in Auckland, New Zealand, scenic photos, villagers and neighbors (names & dates on many photos)
Box1 Folder 2 Scrapbook A, pages 9-15, section II, c. 1943, Fiji, New Admirable Cobb & Fechtmann (1943), trip to Hollywood California, Bethesda Navy Hospital nurses home & fellow nurses, c. 1942
Box 1 Folder 3 Scrapbook B, pages 1-15, section I, c. 1941-1944, religious card, (given to Fechtmann on voyage overseas by chaplain, Bob Johnson, 1942, copy of marriage certificate and picture of 25th Anniversary, correspondence from to and from family members, & soldiers, c. 1944, newspaper clippings, travel expenses for Navy Nurse Corps
Box 1 Folder 4 Scrapbook B, pages 16-23, section II, c. 1941-1944, “Instructions for Preparation of Morning Ward Report” handout, correspondence, photocopy of newspaper clipping about Joe E. Brown, actor, visit to New Zealand, 1943, includes copy of Joe Brown’s signature, dated 3/10/43, receipts, telephone messages, baggage claim ticket, Auckland, New Zealand
Box 1 Folder 5 Scrapbook C, pages 1-8, section I, c. 1942-1944, New Zealand, Bethesda Navy Hospital, Maryland, New Zealand, scenic photos, villagers and neighbors (names & dates on many photos), soldiers, patients
Box 1 Folder 6 Scrapbook C, pages 9-16, section II, c. 1942-1944, New Zealand, scenic photos, villagers and neighbors (names & dates on many photos), soldiers, patients
Box 1 Folder 7 Scrapbook C, pages 17-25, section II, c. 1942-1944, New Zealand, scenic photos, villagers and neighbors (names & dates on many photos), catholic nuns, Fiji women and children, nurses at work and relaxation
Box 1 Folder 8 Scrapbook C, pages 26-35, section III, c. 1942-1944, New Zealand, soldiers and nurses relaxing, Fiji women and children, barracks, huts and villagers in Ohma, scenic photos Bora Bora, celebrations and parties
Box 1 Folder 9 Scrapbook C, pages 36-48, section IV, c. 1942-1944, New Zealand, island shots, beach scenic photos, soldiers, medal pinning ceremony, trip to Hollywood California, postcard Hotel St. Francis,
Box 1 Folder 10 Scrapbook D pages 1-12, section I, c. 1944, Fechtmann & patients, nurses dorm, soldiers, scenic photos, native children on New Hebrides and soldiers, New Zealand native guide Rangi, pictures of wedding, villagers and neighbors (names & dates on many photos)
Box 1 Folder 11 Scrapbook D pages 13-25, section II, c. 1944, Fechtmann & friends, neighbors on New Zealand, scenic photos, Fechtmann and husband, Fred, Capt. H. M. Peterson, Chaplain U. S. Navy Auckland, New Zealand, 1944, signed portrait of Fechtmann, caves in New Zealand
Box1 Folder 12 Scrapbook D pages 26-35, section III, c. 1944, scenic postcards New Zealand, scenic photos of Australia, South Sea military beach shots, military planes
Box 1 Folder 13 “My Scrapbook: An Album of Memories,” by Dora Fechtmann, compiled and written by Fechtmann, (date unknown), “from the Shenandoah Valley to the South Pacific” contains biographical information, papers documenting nursing career in military, copies of photos in Fechtmann’s scrapbook with dates, names and explanations, stories and memories by Fechtmann and pictures of family including three daughters and friends from Florida and Virginia. Receipts for renewal of nursing license for 1938, 1939, and 1940; a Harleysville insurance card for 1941 and a membership card for the Roanoke Police Relief and Pension Fund 1940-1941.
Box1 Fechtmann’s diary, c. 1935- 1938, five year diary, contains experiences at nurses training and her personal life
Box1 contains two CDs; one contains pictures of Fechtmann as a young nurse in theSouth Seas, the other is photographs taken from an article by Eleanor Roosevelt in the Feb. 1944 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. The photographs include a picture of Fechtmann and Roosevelt at the bedside of a wounded soldier.
This box has four scrapbooks that have been dismantled but kept in their original order. There are a comprehensive amount of photographs depicting Fechtmann’s professional life as a nurse and social life among the nurses, medical staff and military while engaged in active military service. Well represented are the scenic photographs of villages and natives in theSouth Seas Islands. This box holds the autobiographical narrative that Fechtmann compiled about her life and experiences as a World War II nurse. Also of importance in this box is Fechtmann’s diary that details her experiences as a student nurse in training at Rockingham County Memorial Hospital.
Access: No Restrictions
Use Restrictions: No Restrictions
University of Virginia School of Nursing, Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry, Dora Cline Fechtmann Collection
Processed by Maureen Spokes, Dec. 2006.