Niles history program to emphasize sacrifice nurses made during World War I

NILES —The Niles District Library and Niles History Center will co-host a program called “Service and Sacrifice: Contributions of World War I Nurses,” presented by Sandra Sager.

The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Niles District Library, 620 E. Main St. The program is free and open to the public to attend. Donations will be accepted to help support the program.

Julia Stahl

Red Cross nurses played a crucial role during World War I. From 1917 to 1919, the American Red Cross recruited more than 23,000 nurses to serve in the United States Armed Forces. The nurses provided aid to soldiers at military hospitals in Europe throughout the war. On the home front, the Red Cross worked to train nurses for active duty, organized supplies to send to troops overseas and even provided aid to families of service personnel.

Sandra Sager, a member of the Rebecca Dewey Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and an avid genealogist, will discuss the important role nurses played during World War I, placing special emphasis on women from southwest Michigan who courageously volunteered for active duty. One of the women Sager will highlight is her great-great-aunt, Julia Stahl. Born in Cass County in 1875, Stahl graduated from the University of Michigan Nursing School in 1898. In the summer of 1917, she was sworn in as a nurse with the Red Cross. Stahl traveled to New York for training before heading to Europe where her medical unit set up hospital facilities in Vittel, France.

Sager developed this program to emphasize the sacrifice many women were willing to make when they enlisted in Red Cross service.

“This was a brutal war and these ladies bravely volunteered, maybe not knowing exactly what they would face,” Sager said. “We often recognize the men who fought and died, but the service of these women was equally important.”

For more information, call the Niles District Library at (269) 683-8545 or the Niles History Center at (269) 845-4054.

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