This blue cotton jumper and white blouse was worn by Mary Elinor Waterhouse Hoyler (1912-1998) of Beaufort. She volunteered with the Red Cross at home while her husband, Lt. Hamilton Hoyler, USMC, served in the Pacific. He was at Pearl Harbor and she did not know his fate for six months. After the war, he returned to Beaufort and they had three children. The uniform was given to the Museum by her daughter,Mary Elinor Hoyler Gray in 2005. It is currently in the Museum’s exhibition, We Have Just Begun to Fight!
This was the standard nurse’s aides corps uniform – a blue cotton jumper apron that buttons down the back and has two large patch pockets on the skirt with a white regulation shirt underneath. The Red Cross Civilian Defense Nurse’s Aid patch is sewn two inches below the shoulder seam of the left sleeve. In her photograph she is shown wearing popular saddle oxfords and bobby socks instead of regulation white low-heeled shoes and white stockings.
Beaufort was already the site of military activity, with Parris Island having Marines there from 1891. The outbreak of World War II heightened the military presence in Beaufort. During December 1941, 5,272 recruits arrived there with over 9,000 the next month. In all, between 1941 and 1945, over 204,500 recruits were trained there. The Marine Corps Air Station was established in 1943 to provide advance training operations of anti-submarine patrols and the Naval Hospital in Beaufort added beds to their facility there.
The International Red Cross was formed as an outgrowth of the Geneva Convention held in Switzerland in 1864. The mission was to allow civilian volunteers to care for wounded soldiers. Though the American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton after her work during the Civil War, the government did not recognize this organization until 1882 when the United States finally ratified the Geneva Convention. The American version of the Red Cross was reorganized and given an official charter by Congress in 1905.
World War II brought about the largest and most rapid expansion of American Red Cross humanitarian activities. When the U.S. declared war, an upsurge of volunteers led to an eventual strength of 7.5 million volunteers. Not only did the Red Cross recruit nurses for the armed forces, they provided all sorts of medical care, supplies, blood drives, canteens and recreational clubs for the soldiers. A local chapters of the Red Cross was responsible for all activities and services within its territory (usually a county). There were 3,757 chapters throughout the U.S. and possessions during World War II.
Mary’s sister, Marguerite Lee Waterhouse (1916-2004), was also in the Red Cross. She was initially stationed at Parris Island USMC for 33 months, but in 1945 she was one of five women sent to the China-Burma-India Theatre and served 14 months overseas. In India, she was Acting Field Director. Her wool uniform, canvas jacket and knapsack are also in the exhibit.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday